About one-third of the people at the company, Piala, were smokers and stepped away from their desks during the day for cigarette breaks. The company adopted the leave policy after non-smoker staff complained that they worked more than their smoker colleagues as they took constant smoke breaks.
It started when an employee at Piala Inc., a marketing firm in Tokyo's Ebisu district, lodged a complaint. Since offering the extra vacation time in September, four out of the firm's 42 daily smokers have given up the habit. Apparently, smokers had to travel from the 29 floor of a major office building to the basement to smoke with each break lasting around 15 minutes.
According to the World Health Organisation, 21.7 per cent of Japanese adult's smoke. However, in Japan, smoking is banned at work places and a common smoking room is constructed for employees to smoke only in that common room.
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.
Despite a downward trend in recent years in the use of tobacco products in Japan, nearly 20 percent of the population still smokes.
That may change as the government tries to crack down on public smoking ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Almost 40 percent of men in their 30s smoke, though that's down from more than half in 2001, according to government figures. But most companies in Japan have banned smoking in the workplace and set up smoking rooms and tobacco use has been falling, in line with the global trend.
In Japan, while smoking is allowed in restaurants and bars without any designated smoking area, it is banned on the streets.
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