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13 Nov 2017

Japan currently comes in last on the World Health Organisation’s ranking of nations’ anti-smoking regulations, rated according to the type of public places entirely smoke-free.

So, it is quite remarkable that Japanese marketing company Piala Inchas announced it is granting its non-smoking staff an additional six days of holiday a year to make up for the time off smokers take for cigarette breaks.

“I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion,” Chief Executive Officer Takao Asuka said in regards to his company’s decision.

Hirotaka Matsushima, a spokesman for the company, said the idea came about following a message in the company suggestion box earlier in the year saying that smoking breaks were causing problems.

Other companies are also pushing for change. Convenience store chain Lawson Inchas introduced an all-day ban on smoking at its head office and all regional offices in June with an eye toward lowering the ratio of smokers in its entire workforce by around 10 percentage points in fiscal 2018. 

“The company is willing to take an even tougher anti-smoking measure in the future,” a public relations officer for Lawson Incsaid.

A recent government survey in Japan showed that the number of smokers nationwide has fallen below 20 percent of the population for the first time on record, estimating about 18 per cent of Japanese are believed to smoke. Both genders recorded a decrease. The rate of male smokers fell 2.6 points to 31.1 per cent, while smoking among women declined 1.2 points to 9.5 per cent.

The Japanese health ministry is seeking new restrictions on smoking in public places before the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. But the proposal is likely to encounter strong opposition from Japan Tobacco, which is one-third government owned.

MEREDITH HORNE


Published: 13 Nov 2017