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If you work with people who smoke, it’s easy to get a little annoyed at all the smoke breaks your smoking co-workers seem to take. Well, one Japanese company is taking a new approach to help get their staff to kick the habit. They’ve decided to give their non-smoking employees 6 extra vacation days a year.

Non-Smoking Employees Are Rewarded

The bosses from Tokyo marketing firm Piala Inc. believe this a good way to get their employees to put down that cigarette for good.

non-smoking employees

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“I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion”, company CEO Takao Asuka told the International Business Times.

According to staff at the marketing firm, smoke breaks are quite disruptive, as smoking employees usually take 15 minutes minimum for each break. This is because Piala’s office is on the 29th floor of an office building, not a very convenient trip up and down.

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But for some reason, Piala’s non-smoking employees are hesitant to take advantage of this obvious incentive.

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Since this initiative was started, it’s reported that only 30 of the company’s non-smoking staff have taken advantage of their extra paid vacation days.

“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,” stated Piala employee Hirotaka Matsushima, who has used the extra time to share a long weekend with his family.

“Our CEO saw the comment and agreed, so we are giving non-smokers some extra time off to compensate.”

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There are a few people taking advantage of the program, however. According to Matsushima, 4 of his co-workers who were smokers have been encouraged to quit and are taking their 6 extra paid holidays.

While Japan is renowned for their high-life expectancy, they continue to have significantly higher smoking rates than the UK. In fact, the prevalence of cigarette smoking among Japanese men has been consistently high compared with Western males over the past 30 years [2]. But in that same period, the incidence and mortality rate of lung cancer have been lower in Japan as compared to the West. This is what is being called the ‘Japanese smoking paradox’.

non-smoking employees

A survey taken in 2016 found that 19.8 percent of Japanese adults smoke, the first time on record that the percentage had fallen below 20%.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year, or 1 of every 5 deaths [3]. Maybe this particular incentive could help those who are struggling to quit finally drop the habit, for good.

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