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Paying for those cigarette breaks: This company in Japan is granting non-smoking staff extra six days off every year

The move will compensate employees for the time their colleagues who smoke spend away from their desks.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Dec 10, 2019, 03.25 PM IST
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Frequent cigarette breaks mean that many employees spend upwards of 15 minutes a day away from their desks. (Representative image)
Non-smoking employees can be excused for resenting their peers who choose to light up every couple of hours. Those quick smoke breaks might take only ten minutes or so, but they add up. In Japan, a country with an entrenched smoking culture, a company is moving to assuage its non-smoking employees who feel hard done by the extra hours they put in throughout the year.

The marketing firm Piala Inc. amended its paid time off policy after a non-smoking employee complained about how smoke breaks were affecting the productivity of the team. Piala will grant non-smoking staff an additional six days off every year to compensate for the time their colleagues who smoke play truant from their desks.

It was deemed that frequent cigarette breaks meant that many employees spent upwards of 15 minutes a day away from their desks. The company’s CEO said he hoped the incentive would encourage employees to quit smoking. This is opposed to the policy of penalising smokers or coercing them to quit. In spite of high life expectancy, Japanese citizens are more likely to smoke than Indians or Americans. The percentage of adults who smoked in the island nation fell below the 20 per cent mark last year. The World Health Organisation reckons that men in Japan are three times more likely to smoke than women.
​ In spite of high life expectancy, Japanese citizens are more likely to smoke than Indians or Americans. ​(Representative image)
In spite of high life expectancy, Japanese citizens are more likely to smoke than Indians or Americans. (Representative image)

The share of adults who smoke in the U.S. has gone to 15 per cent. In 2005, one in five Americans used to light up. The decrease can be attributed to laws banning smoking in certain places, anti-smoking advertisements, awareness campaigns, and a ban on selling cigarettes at major retailers.

While some Japanese companies are toying with the idea of granting compensatory holidays in lieu of penalising employees who smoke, the governor of Tokyo is considering a ban on public smoking ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics.

But arm-twisting smokers into stubbing their cigarettes might prove to be difficult, as was the case in the U.S. The Japanese government’s health ministry enacted a ban on indoor smoking in restaurants, only for it to be rolled back after politicians were pressurised by lobbyists.

Piala Inc.’s strategy appears to be working. Of the 42 smokers on the company’s rolls, four have already given up the habit.

This Wellness Guide Is What You Need To Quit To Smoking & Drinking For Good

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6 Apr, 2019
Cigarettes don't contain just nicotine but a range of toxic, carcinogenic chemicals you wouldn't want near your body. Next time you reach for a cigarette that looks quite appealing, imagine yourself licking tarmac, chewing on rubber cement or drinking a cocktail of battery acid, lighter fuel and nail varnish remover.
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