Medicine

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

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

The rollout of the new benefit comes as other companies in Japan grapple with how to encourage their own workers to make healthier choices and as the government faces worldwide pressure to crack down on public smoking before the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

A Japanese marketing firm is giving their non-smokers an additional six days of paid-leave to make up for their employees who take periodic cigarette breaks. But Piala's smoking room is in the basement, which caused smoking employees to leave the 29th-floor office for breaks multiple times a day.

The initiative named as "Sumokyu"- wordplay on the word "smoke" and a Japanese word for "break" - was rolled out by a Tokyo-based online marketing consultant Piala on September 1 after an employee complained about the time lost because the colleagues went smoking. Because of the distance, each break lasts around 15 minutes, and according to employees, that adds up quickly.

After hearing about the complaint, the company's CEO, Takao Asuka, made a decision to give nonsmoking employees time off to compensate.

"I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion", he said. It was only this past year that the percentage of Japanese adults who smoke fell below 20 percent. The organisation reports that 35% of its workforce are smokers.

Unlike many western countries, smoking is permitted in certain sections of restaurants.

Earlier this year, Tokyo's governor Yuriko Koike said he planned to impose a smoking ban in public places across city ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics.

So far, however, the measure taken by Piala Inc. seems to be working.

Employees have been quick to take advantage. "So we decided it's better to give rewards (to non-smokers) than punish the smokers".



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