Company gives non-smokers additional days off to counter smoke breaks

Company gives non-smokers additional days off to counter smoke breaks

Ronald Pratt
November 4, 2017

The idea is that staff can win up to six additional holiday days annually, simply by steering clear of cigarette breaks at work.

It all started when a non-smoker used the company suggestion box to complain about smoking breaks, a spokesperson tells the Telegraph.

"Because our office is located on the 29th floor it takes at least 10 minutes for a smoker to go down to a common smoking room in the basement and come back, " spokesman Hirotaka Matsushima said.

Every smoker at some point in their lives classified themselves as a social smoker or someone who smokes occasionally but slowly they begin transitioning to regular smoking and before they know it they have become addicted to cigarettes. Marketing firm Piala Inc introduced the new policy in September after staff expressed frustration that some colleagues were on constant smoke breaks.

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But instead of punishing the smokers, the company wound up rewarding the non-smokers, giving them six extra vacation days a year.

The novel benefit even has its own name - "Sumokyu" - a combination of the word smoke and the Japanese word for "break".

In an effort to convince more of its workers to quit smoking and improve their health, one Japanese company believes it may have found a winning incentive: an extra week of paid vacation. 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. Almost 40 percent of men in their 30s smoke, though that's down from more than half in 2001, according to government figures. According to government and World Health Organization estimates, more than 15,000 people in Japan die each year from secondhand smoke.

More stringent anti-smoking laws - including banning indoor smoking in public places - are due to kick-in ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.