This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.
Because smoking areas in Singapore are usually outside office buildings and malls, complaints from the public are common about smoke clouds spreading to surrounding areas. But it's not just the pedestrians complaining. Smokers also complain about having to smoke outdoors in the sun, or on rainy days.
The smoking cabin is set to provide a win-win scenario for both. Not only are they air-conditioned, it also spares non-smokers from second-hand smoke.
On Tuesday, May 21, Singapore opened its first smokers’ cabin, the newest technology of its kind in the country. The cabins hold a centrifugal fan, which suck cigarette smoke into a filtration system. The system has three filters: a pre-filter that removes large dust particles, a HEPA Filter that removes small micron particles, and an Activated Carbon Filter that removes smell and chemicals. The newly filtered air is then pushed outside, so the general public doesn’t suffer from second-hand smoke, and then pushed back inside so smokers don’t have to be in a stuffy environment.
Stefen Choo, Director at Southern Globe Corporation (SGC), developed the cabin using a Danish company’s filtration system, to counter an issue he says his family has suffered from extensively: second-hand smoke.
In a city that has been harshening cigarette smoking laws in recent years, the smoking cabin is something that tries to appease both smokers and non-smokers at the same time.
The cabin has no seating, two windows, a TV screen and can reportedly fit around 10 people.
But while it’s a step forward in tackling the debate of cigarette smoking in public, reactions were mixed among young Singaporeans VICE spoke to.
Sonia, 23, said she has used the smoking chamber, and shared "it was good, up until the air conditioning spoilt." She said it was a good idea though, and that there should be more of them, adding that the non-smokiness was a plus.
Jonathan, 25, who works nearby, wasn’t as optimistic about the smoking cabin. “I’ve seen it, but I think it’s a little stuffy so I don’t really want to use it. I think it needs to be bigger, and has to be well ventilated before I can use it,” he told VICE.
Although cameras are installed outside and inside the cabin, safety is another issue surrounding the cabins, which are open 24/7. Alissa, 23, said, "I wouldn’t feel safe in one of these at night. I know there are cameras but it’s a small confined space with small windows.”
SGC is set to place another 60 cabins around Singapore by the end of 2019.