This Japanese Company Gives Nonsmokers 6 Extra Vacation Days

Instead of punishing smokers for taking extra breaks, the company's CEO chose to reward nonsmoking workers.

Aug 23, 2019

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The Japanese frequently make it to the top of the world's most productive workers because of the immense amount of hours they spend at work. But even for the most efficient people on earth, one fact holds true: nonsmokers work more than smokers, simply because they take fewer breaks.

Smoke breaks even if they are short, add up to extra time out of the office. One nonsmoking employee of the Tokyo marketing firm Piala Inc. put a complaint in the company's suggestion box about how much the smoke breaks were affecting productivity, according to CNBC, and the company decided to do something about it.

Hirotaka Matsushima, a spokesman for Piala Inc., told The Telegraph that the frequent breaks meant that workers were away from their desks at least 15 minutes a day.

But instead of punishing the smokers for taking extra breaks, the company's CEO Takao Asuka decided to reward nonsmoking workers with six extra vacation days a year to balance the time.

"I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion," Asuka told the Japan Times.

Smoking is a part of everyday life in Japan, but the percentage of smokers has fallen by 50 percent since 1989 when 36 percent of adults smoked. Smoking rates are also going down in other countries, including the US. While there are new laws that took effect in July regarding smoking in public places, the country's smoking culture will be hard to change.

According to the Japan Times, the law banned smoking indoors in government buildings, schools, child welfare organizations, and hospitals. The law, which was designed to protect young people, ill people, and pregnant women from the serious effects of passive smoke, provides for people to still light up outside if special smoking areas are established.

There will be more public places added in April 2020 in the leadup to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games that year. Unfortunately, there will be many exemptions for many eateries and bars across the country that could equal a full 50 percent of all public places.

But many Japanese companies like Piala Inc. are coming up with their own measures to reduce smoking and protect their workers from dangerous second-hand smoke.

The Japanese convenience store chain Lawson Inc. banned smoking for 4,500 employees at its head office and regional offices. A life insurance company banned all-day smoking at its main office and converted its smoking rooms into resting rooms for employees. The company also subsidizes employees taking quit smoking programs.

Many countries have already passed comprehensive public smoking bans including 17 in the EU, Canada, Bhutan, Malaysia, and several in South American. 

Initiatives, such as the one by Piala Inc, are a fantastic way to incentivize people to give up their unhealthy habits, and live healthier, longer, and happier lives. 

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.

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