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Japanese Company Offers Non-Smoking Employees Extra 6 Days Off Every Year

Non-smoking employees at a Tokyo-based company are being allowed an extra six days paid leave each year to combat workplace inequalities.

A non-smoking sign in Kyoto, Japan. Photo: robert paul van beets/Shutterstock

Non-smoking Tokyo employees at advertising company Piala Inc. are being offered six additional days off a year in a commitment to combat workplace smoking.

A hotspot for tobacco consumption, Japan has long battled with a smoking epidemic among multiple age groups. 

Tokyo as a Smoking Hotspot

A 2020 study demonstrated that Japan’s smoking population was 36.3%, a world-high for cigarette users. 

Recent surveys show a yearly decrease in smokers in Japan, with the country’s younger population not being as enamored with tobacco consumption as those in their 40s. 

Japan’s citizens and local governments are increasingly making efforts to reduce the negative impacts of workplace smoking.

Non-Smoking Tokyo Residents Walk Alongside Tobacco-Consuming Citizens
Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo, Japan. Credit: Brian Merrill from Pixabay

The bustling, modern city of Osaka is one of the most notable areas of Japan when it comes to enforcing smoking prohibitions.

The city’s residents are banned from smoking in government buildings. While government workers cannot take smoking breaks without facing substantial fines or dismissal. 

Noticeably, attitudes regarding workplace smoking are changing rapidly throughout the country.

Paid Leave for Smoke-Free Workers

Combating the country’s workplace smoking issue in a more egalitarian fashion, Piala Inc. focuses on non-smoking employees’ rights. 

By imposing an additional six days a year off for its non-smoking Tokyo workers, Piala Inc. can compensate for the periods when employees take smoking breaks. 

A spokesperson for the company, Hiotaka Matsushima, told The Telegraph.

“One of our non-smoking staff put a message in the company suggestion box earlier in the year saying that smoking breaks were causing problems.”

CEO Takao Asuka realized that 35% of smoking employees being penalized would lead to a mass walkout. 

Business people huddled in a smoking area in Kyoto, Japan. Credit: HunterKitty/Shutterstock

Tempting Smoke-Free Benefits

The company adopted an alternative method of communicating the inequality faced by non-smokers. Subsequently, Piala Inc. explicitly demonstrated the impact of continued tobacco consumption – and 15-minute smoking breaks – during work hours. 

Six days of liberation from strenuous work duties appeals to all. But more so for Japan’s smoking employees – with stress and induced relaxation being the main reasons for many choosing to smoke.

Witnessing peers escaping the constant demand of office work is inevitably tempting for smoking employees. 

Asuka has a long-term vision with the policy – creating such a desirable outlook that the Tokyo-based workers will quit smoking.

Power Balance in Tokyo

Bosses dictating how employees spend their breaks is another means of enforcing workforce rules. However, Tokyo is not alone in highlighting the issues surrounding tobacco consumption.

Countries around the world are actively eradicating the buzz for young people smoking cigarettes.

More recently, the United Kingdom announced a restriction of younger Gen-Z residents – and future generations – from obtaining the products.

We contacted Piala Inc. for a statement.

Written By

I am an MLitt Digital Journalism Masters student at Strathclyde University, and a 2.1 graduate of English Literature (MA Hons) at the University of Edinburgh. Engaging for a decade with journalistic writing and reporting, I have been involved with a broad range of media work; from sports journalism and features, to news writing and disability awareness.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. issy burness

    November 28, 2023 at 9:24 pm

    Interesting article. The promise of extra days away from work is a brilliant incentive for employees.

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