Piala introduces paid leave for non-smokers

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Companies in the United States have typically taken a more punitive stance on smoking, charging workers who use tobacco more for insurance and outlawing smoking on company property.

As a reward for not taking daily smoke breaks, non-smokers at the Japanese company Pilia Inc. now receive an extra six days off each year.

Although the USA has had its own problems with people not taking enough time off from work, Americans aren't smoking as much as they used to. Piala, a Tokyo-based online commerce consulting and marketing company, chose to kick-start the programme after an employee complained about the time lost work by smoking colleagues. Because of the distance, each break lasts around 15 minutes, and according to employees, that adds up quickly.

"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 spokesperson Hirotaka Matsushima told the Telegraph.

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"I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion", he said.

"Our CEO saw the comment and agreed".

A higher percent of Japanese adults smoke than Americans. The organisation reports that 35% of its workforce are smokers. But curbing tobacco use in Japan will likely be hard, as it was in the U.S. Original efforts by the country's health ministry to ban indoor smoking in restaurants were scaled back after lobbyists pressured politicians.

In July, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike made plans to impose a smoking ban in public places across the Japanese capital ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics. Piala Inc.is trying to encourage employees to quit. A number of companies have recently begun banning employees from smoking at work, with smoking rooms being used for other purposes.

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