Company gives non-smokers additional days off to counter smoke breaks

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There are other ways to incentivize employees to quit smoking, according to The Midwest Business Group on Health.

Piala Inc., a Tokyo-based online marketing company, decided in September to offer six additional paid days off to nonsmoking employees. Because smokers and nonsmokers would still leave work for the day at the same time, nonsmokers started complaining. After a non-smoking employee submitted a complaint about how smoke breaks were affecting productivity, marketing firm Piala Inc. made a change to its paid time off policy.

Why? They listened to their employees.

The idea came after non-smoking emplyees began voiced their concerns that they were working more than their smoking counterparts.

One of those new non-smokers, Shun Shinbaba, 25, told CNNMoney he used to smoke a pack of cigarettes every two days, and that he plans to use his newfound vacation time to play tennis.

The company's corporate planning director, Hirotaka Matsushima - a non-smoker himself - said the scheme was "pretty popular".

"I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion", Asuka told Kyodo News.

About 20 percent of Japanese smoke, down sharply from recent decades but still one of the highest rates in the world, according to government figures. But most restaurants and bars still allow smoking.

Sompo Japan Nippon Kowa Himawari Life Insurance Inc. has introduced an all-day smoking ban at its head office and all business outlets across Japan.

Japan lags behind other developed nations in terms of smoke-free policies and the social pressure to quit is less intense.

The move is aimed at enhancing employees' health by preventing their exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke, scientifically confirmed as causing health risks.

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