Japanese Company Giving Non-Smokers Extra Days Off In Lieu Of Cigarette Breaks

At long last, a company is making things equitable for its employees who aren’t hooked on cigarettes. 

The Tokyo-based marketing firm Piala Inc. has decided to award its non-smoking employees with an additional six days off every year in an effort to counterbalance the amount of time spent on cigarette breaks by employees who do smoke. 

“I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion,” said Takao Asuka, the Piala Inc CEO, as quoted by news station WCMH.

The divide between smokers and non-smokers has long been a source of tension in the workplace, with the latter group often feeling resentful for all the breaks taken by the former group to satisfy their addiction. A study last year that was commissioned by e-cigarette maker Halo found that 42 percent of non-smokers believe they should receive between three and five more vacation days than non-smokers. The same study, which was based on a survey of a little more than 1,000 American adults, found that nearly 40 percent of smokers did not think their non-smoking counterparts deserve any extra vacation days. Eighty-one percent of smokers said they think smoking breaks are fair, according to the survey; only a quarter of non-smokers agreed with that.

It was apparently those complaints from non-smokers that prompted Piala to institute the policy change. 

“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,” said Piala spokesman Hirotaka Matsushima, as quoted by The Telegraph. 

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

The Telegraph reported that around 30 of the company’s 120 workers have taken advantage of the extra vacation days.

Will Smoke Breaks Become a Thing of the Past?

Once a hallmark of the American workday, the smoke break has become less common in the U.S., as cigarette use has plummeted to historic lows. A poll released in the summer by Gallup found that only 15 percent of Americans reported smoking a cigarette in the last week — the lowest rate of smoking in Gallup’s 75 years conducting the survey. 

When Gallup conducted the same poll in the 1950s, nearly half of Americans responded “yes” to that question; at the beginning of the 21st century, the number was around 30 percent. 

It is safe to assume that the decline in cigarette smoking is a byproduct of the rise in e-cigarette use, or “vaping.” The Gallup poll in the survey found that eight percent of Americans had vaped in the last week, including nearly 20 percent of adults aged 30 and younger.
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