woman smoking

A Company Is Offering Nonsmokers 6 Extra Vacation Days to Make up for Smoke Breaks

The average smoke break is about ten minutes, and when one has multiple smoke breaks, it all adds up, giving the smokers more time away from their desk and not working while being at work. Some might say that it is unfair that smokers and nonsmokers get paid the same when they don’t spend the same amount of time doing actual work. In 2017, a company in Japan decided to implement a new policy that allows nonsmokers an extra six days of vacation time to compensate for the time taken by smokers [1] — and some companies have even taken a page from their book since.


Nonsmokers get extra vacation days 

According to a new survey, around 42% of nonsmokers believe that an extra 3-5 days of vacation time is a fair trade-off to compensate for the smokers, and only 28% of smokers agree. To understand this issue, e-cigarette maker Halo surveyed over 1000 people and found that nonsmokers felt that 1-2 days was fair, but 14% said 6 or more is better. However, more than 38% of smokers do not believe that nonsmokers deserve extra time off, and 20% of nonsmokers agreed. The survey also found that 81% of smokers felt like their smoke breaks were fair, and 25% of nonsmokers agreed. 


On average, a smoker will spend a total of six days a year out on smoke breaks, according to the survey conducted by Halo. After a complaint about productivity from a nonsmoker, a marketing company in Japan issued a statement saying they had implemented a new policy allowing nonsmokers six extra days off a year.[2]


Company helps employees quit smoking 

Smoking is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture, and one company has decided to do something about it. The marketing firm Piala Inc. was the first to implement its new policy to discourage smoking among its employees. 


“One of our nonsmoking staff put a message in the company suggestion box earlier in the year saying that smoking breaks were causing problems,” said Hirotaka Matsushima, a spokesperson for Piala. Upon hearing the complaint, Takao Asuka decided to offer extra time off to their nonsmoking employees. The company has to lead this change to encourage smokers to quit through incentive and not coercion. 

The number of American smokers has gone down by 5%. The decrease is largely due to the health initiative and laws around smoking in certain areas, no longer selling cigarettes and anti-smoking advertising. The Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, said that she planned to impose a ban on smoking in all public places in preparation for the 2020 Olympics; thus far, the efforts taken by the marketing company, Piala Inc. have proven effective as four out of the 42 employees have dedicated themselves to quit smoking. 


One employee says that he would smoke a pack a day but now will use his extra time to play tennis.[1]


These are the facts about smokers and nonsmokers

According to the World Health Organization, Japanese men are three times more likely to smoke than women, and there are more Japanese smokers than Americans. Around 130,000 people die each year in Japan due to smoking-related illness, and a further 15000 die of second-hand smoke-related conditions say, Susan Mercado, a WHO representative. 


The Center for disease control and Prevention reports that smoking-related illnesses cost over $156 billion each year in loss of productivity, including $5.6 billion due to second-hand smoke exposure. An estimated 37.8 million people, 18 years and older, smoke cigarettes. 45% of Americans were smokers in 1965, but in 1997 that number dropped to 25%. Cigarettes kill around 480 000 people every year and are one of the leading causes of preventable death. [1]


How you can quit 

The NHS has released their top tips on how to give up smoking and finally join the nonsmoker’s corner yourself![3]


Stay positive – You may have tried to quit and failed, but that should not stop you from trying. It is unrealistic to expect that you ever slip up, so allow yourself some grace and stay positive. 


Make a plan – Set a deadline, make a bet or a promise, and commit. Remind yourself constantly, with notes and reminders. Plan for your future and edit your social engagements accordingly.

Diet – According to a recent study, certain food like meat can make a cigarette more satisfying. However, cheese, vegetables, and fruit make them taste awful so consider swopping out your stake for a veggie pizza.

Make new friends – More often than not, smoking is a social thing; we smoke more when we are out with friends and drinking, so it might be wise to remove ourselves from situations we know may cause us to fall back into the old habits. Distancing yourself from your smoker friends does not mean you like them any less; it just means you like yourself a little more. 

Stay Active – Boredom is a huge contributor to smoking as it satisfies our oral fixation and releases small amounts of dopamine, making us feel nice and relaxed, but the more we smoke, the less it works. Exercise helps produce the same chemicals with the added benefits of bettering your body.

What about you? Would you quit smoking if it meant 6 extra vacations days? Or do you think it’s unfair?

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  1. This Japanese company is giving employees who don’t smoke 6 extra vacation days.” CNBC. Marguerite Ward. November 2, 2017.
  2. 42% of non-smokers say they should get 3-5 extra vacation days than smokers.” USA Today. David Carrig. February 28, 2018.
  3. 10 self-help tips to stop smoking.” NHS