Non-smoking employees at one Japanese firm are getting six additional days of paid holiday to compensate for the time their colleagues spend puffing away at work.
Piala Inc., a Tokyo-based online marketing company, unveiled the benefit to its workforce in September after receiving complaints from non-smokers that their counterparts were enjoying far more breaks during the workday.
The company says the idea came from an employee who complained that colleagues who smoked often worked less because of the cigarette breaks they took throughout the day.
Even more importantly, the policy reportedly has encouraged four separate employees to quit the habit altogether, and according to Piala Inc.
In the United Kingdom as many as 17% of us smoke, down from 20% in 2010. About two-thirds of the company's employees don't smoke, he said.
After hearing about the complaint, the company's CEO, Takao Asuka, made a decision to give nonsmoking employees time off to compensate.
Smoking is still quite prevalent in Japan, where according to the World Health Organization, 21.7 per cent of adults smoke. But curbing tobacco use in Japan will likely be hard, as it was in the U.S. Original efforts by the country's health ministry to ban indoor smoking in restaurants were scaled back after lobbyists pressured politicians. The rate in the U.S.is 19.5 percent. Smoking remains part of the culture and work environment in Japan, where it is common for companies to provide designated rooms for employees to smoke indoors.
"The time is right for Japan to finally catch up now with the Olympics just around the corner", Douglas Bettcher, WHO's director for prevention of non-communicable disease, said at a news conference earlier this year.
More stringent anti-smoking laws - including banning indoor smoking in public places - are due to kick-in ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
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