Look at the main picture on this page. What do you see? Scroll down the side of the picture, you will notice two people smoking in a room. On the upper part of that same picture, there are many people attending a funeral with the pastor presiding over the deceased. As this picture shows, nowadays, many nonsmokers view smokers negatively and avoid close proximity to them when they are smoking. As a result, nonsmokers have started to make smokers shun opened areas. Smokers can read other’s countenance, and they retreat to covert areas in order to smoke comfortably. In reality, there are many conflicts between these two groups. They both assert their rights, but now the conflict is coming to a head on campus. Nowadays, many nonsmokers on campus have started to fight smokers who leave a trail of cigarette smoke and/or litter cigarette butts on campus grounds. At the same time, smokers argue their right to smoke. Because smoking is a hot potato on campus, The Sookmyung Times asked Sookmyung Women’s University students to share their opinion about the issue.
- Debate Topic -
Smoking Should Be Prohibited on University Campuses.
Nam Haneul /
Department of Korean Language and Literature ʼ12
The gap between smoker rights and nonsmoker rights is huge. Smokers assert their right to smoke and complain about the unfairness of being forced into a corner. Nonsmokers assert displeasure and harm to their health due to smokers, so they want smokers kept apart from them. The conflict between smokers and nonsmokers is intensifying as the days pass, both on and off university campuses. There is a law that prohibits smoking at university, and I agree with the policy.
These days, when I walk around campus and enter a restroom, I easily see cigarette butts on the floor and smell cigarette smoke. It is really awful to inhale. Moreover, the displeasure is heightened when nonsmokers contemplate how unhealthy it is on their health. It is common knowledge that the physical harm from smoking is greater on the nonsmoker than the smoker. Because the cigarette smoke that nonsmokers inhale is unfiltered, it is more harmful. Also, research has shown that the likelihood a nonsmoker will be diagnosed with lung cancer is 20~30% higher than that of smokers. Besides, there exists plenty of other physical harm caused by second-hand smoking. What is really important is that the harm, which could threaten a person’s life, is due to the action of smokers. We are now living in a free, democratic nation that assures basic human rights and privacy. Indeed, a smoker’s life is personal and everyone should respect his/her right to smoke; however, when a smoker’s action infringes upon others’ rights, the claim “I have the right to smoke anywhere” does not hold ground. Smoking affects others’ lives. We cannot completely protect a smoker’s freedom and rights because the smoker’s smoking can harm others. In life, everyone faces a time when they need to choose between health and freedom. This is the time when people should health because nothing is more valuable than one’s health and the right to live unaffected by others.
However, we cannot force every place to be nonsmoking areas. Therefore, compromise is needed between smokers and nonsmokers. Nonsmoking should be the law in public gathering places while people should have the right to smoke on the street might be a feasible compromise.
Uhm Yerim /
School of Communication and Media ʼ12
According to research by the Korean society in 2012, 23.6% of Koreans smoke. Among these people, men comprise about 44.3%. This is the highest rate among OECD member countries. That is, one in four Korean people smoke. However, Korea is now making many policies to prohibit smoking. Today, restaurants, PC rooms, and bars are all nonsmoking areas.
I am a nonsmoker, and I do not really like cigarette smoke. However, I don’t think university campuses should be nonsmoking. Nowadays, there are smoking rooms where smokers can smoke on campus. However, if a university makes its campus nonsmoking, the university will remove all smoking areas. There is a Korean saying, “A mouse trapped in a corner will bite the cat.” In other words, there will be repercussions. If a university prohibits smoking on campus, smokers will hide in covert and out-of-sight places and continue to smoke there, which can create other problems. Nonsmokers presently using those concealed places where smokers retreat will complain about the cigarette smoke and littered cigarette butts. Also, fires can start in the covert, enclosed areas. Besides, because they are hiding, the university will not be able to determine the number of smokers on campus. Knowing this information is very important because the school can suggest alternatives once it understands their concerns. If smokers hide, it will be impossible to help them. Nonsmoking on campus protects nonsmokers from smokers, and it may also help or convince a smoker to quit the habit. However, a university should investigate the number of campus smokers and their concerns before making smoking policies. Therefore, the university should not drive smokers to covert places but rather allow freedom on an open campus.
Harming others by smoking is wrong but smokers who use smoking areas should not be berated or ignored due to the mistakes of a few ill-mannered smokers. In my opinion, a nonsmoking campus is not a good idea. Instead, a university should restrict smoking areas and enforce restrictions that satisfy both smokers and nonsmokers. Also, universities need to concentrate on fundamental methods like promoting nonsmoking by campaigns instead of driving out smokers from our campus.