On average, each daily smoker and recent quitter took nearly 2.5 more sick days in 2010 compared to employees who have never smoked, the conference board found.
The company granted non-smoking staff an additional six days off each year to make up for the time smokers take for cigarette breaks.
Matsushima further said, "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". 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.
Even more importantly, the policy reportedly has encouraged four separate employees to quit the habit altogether, and according to Piala Inc.
The benefit, named "smoking holiday" by the organisation, has been implemented to help staff improve their health as well as to help reform working practices. And more companies are expected to ban in-house smoking altogether in coming years.
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Following the suggestion, the company's CEO Takao Asuka made a decision to give non-smoking employees extra time off to compensate, Matsushima added.
A higher percent of Japanese adults smoke than Americans.
As you can see in the photo below, public spaces in Japan are eerily reminiscent of what USA customers might have encountered before statewide bans took off in the mid-1990s.
Unsurprisingly, staffers who don't smoke have been pleased with the bonus time.
In Japan, while smoking is allowed in restaurants and bars without any designated smoking area, it is banned on the streets. Now that he has additional vacation leaves because of the paid leave allowance, he plans to use his extra time off to play tennis.