It’s commonplace for smokers to take time out for a break to puff a cigarette during office hours.
But it can be frustrating for non-smoking employees.
In one Japanese company, an employee complained that non-smoking employees were working more hours per day than their smoking counterparts.
The marketing company’s head office is on the 29th floor of an office block in Ebisu, Tokyo, that meant anyone wanting a cigarette break would have to go down to the basement level. Non-smokers grew frustrated as each break would last around 15 minutes.
“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,” Hirotaka Matsushima, a spokesman for the company told The Telegraph.
He added, “Our CEO saw the comment and agreed, so we are giving non-smokers some extra time off to compensate.”
The firm now offers non-smokers six days of paid holiday per year.
Matsushima said that around 30 of the company’s 120 employees have taken extra days off since the new policy was introduced in September, and four people have decided to give up smoking.
“I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion,” said CEO Takao Asuka, to Kyodo News.
Around 21.7 percent of adults smoke cigarettes, according to the World Health Organization. In the United States around 17.9 percent of adults smoke cigarettes.
The move comes after Japanese companies introduce more policies to encourage people to stop smoking.
In June, the convenience store Lawson started an all-day ban on smoking at its head office and regional offices, per Kyodo News.
A Japanese life insurance company also started an all-day smoking ban at its head office and other branches in Japan.
“I am no longer shunned by non-smokers as I have rid myself of the odor of cigarette smoke,” said Masayuki Seto, who works for the company and has smoked for 30 years.
“Moves to quit smoking have spread among staff working under my supervision,” he said.
In July, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike pushed for a law banning smoking in public places ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics, reports said.
But the new plans are are likely to not go down well with pro-smoking politicians, restaurateurs, and global giant, Japan Tobacco, that is one-third government owned, according to Reuters.