Japanese company gives extra days off to non-smokers

The rollout of the new benefit comes as other companies in Japan grapple with how to encourage their own workers to make healthier choices and as the government faces worldwide pressure to crack down on public smoking before the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Every smoker at some point in their lives classified themselves as a social smoker or someone who smokes occasionally but slowly they begin transitioning to regular smoking and before they know it they have become addicted to cigarettes.

A marketing company in Tokyo is awarding a novel perk to its non-puffing employees: an extra week's holiday for nonsmokers. Because of the distance, each break lasts around 15 minutes, and according to employees, that adds up quickly.

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"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", company spokesman Hirotaka Matsushima told The Telegraph.

Overall, smoking is still quite prevalent in Japan, with nearly 20 percent of over-20-year-olds saying they smoke.

Globally, smoking carries costs of more than $1 trillion per year, according to a study from the World Health Organization and the U.S. National Cancer Institute. But most restaurants and bars still allow smoking.

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That may change as the government tries to crack down on public smoking ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

So far, however, the measure taken by Piala Inc. seems to be working. This is mostly because I once had a job where I worked with a close friend who was a smoker and I couldn't resist this acceptable way of taking mini-vacations throughout the day for a quick chat with her.

The organisation, which has approximately 120 employees, launched the benefit to staff in September, and to date it has been taken up by 31 employees.

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