"Our CEO saw the comment and agreed, so we are giving non-smokers some extra time off to compensate", the spokesperson explains. Because of the distance, each break lasts around 15 minutes, and according to employees, that adds up quickly.
American companies have typically taken a more punitive stance on smoking, charging workers who use tobacco more for insurance and outlawing smoking on company property.
Piala Inc., a marketing firm in Tokyo, announced the policy in September, and a quarter of the workforce has taken advantage of it.
The company granted non-smoking staff an additional six days off each year to make up for the time smokers take for cigarette breaks. Despite the time the smokers were away from work, everyone left the office for the night at the same time.
The Telegraph reports that Japanese companies are increasing efforts to protect employees from the impact of second-hand smoke, with Lawson Inc, an operator of 24-hour convenience stores, in June banning smoking in its head office and regional offices.More news: Senate boss quits parliament over United Kingdom ties
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"I am no longer shunned by nonsmokers as I have rid myself of the odor of cigarette smoke", said Masayuki Seto, an executive at a life insurance company, to the Japan Times. In fact, four people have quit since the policy took effect September 1.
Even more importantly, the policy reportedly has encouraged four separate employees to quit the habit altogether, and according to Piala Inc.
However, it's unclear whether those results would translate directly to Japan where 21.7 percent of Japanese adults smoke. Many workplaces, along with bars and restaurants, still have smoking rooms.
More stringent anti-smoking laws - including banning indoor smoking in public places - are due to kick-in ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. About 15 per cent of US adults smoke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.