Should those who don’t smoke cigarettes get extra days off to make up for their co-workers’ smoke breaks?
That’s what happened to employees at one Japanese company.
Piala Inc., a marketing firm based in Tokyo, in September started giving its nonsmoking employees six extra paid vacation days, according to the Telegraph.
Hirotaka Matsushima, a spokesman for the company, said that “one of our nonsmoking staff put a message in the company suggestion box earlier in the year saying that smoking breaks were causing problems.”
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“Our CEO saw the comment and agreed,” Matsushima told the Telegraph, “so we are giving nonsmokers some extra time off to compensate.”
It appears the idea might be popular among nonsmokers in America, too. Just over 80 percent of people in the U.S. who don’t smoke cigarettes say they should get at least one additional vacation day, according to a survey of 1,005 people by e-cigarette company HaloCigs.
The survey, which was weighted to match the 2017 U.S. Census for gender and age, found a pretty big divide between smokers and nonsmokers on cigarette breaks.
Around 81 percent of people who use cigarettes think smoke breaks are “fair,” according to the survey, while around 75 percent of those who don’t smoke think the breaks are unfair.
Respondents were then asked how much extra time off — if any — people who don’t smoke should get. Among smokers, 38.2 percent said their nonsmoking coworkers shouldn’t get any extra time off, and 17.4 percent said they should get one to two days off.
Also, 28 percent of smokers said those who don’t smoke should get three to five extra days off, the survey found, while 16.4 percent said their smoke-free peers should have at least six additional vacation days.
Nonsmokers were much more likely to think they should get more time off, the survey suggests. Over 80 percent said they should receive at least one extra vacation day, compared with just 19.9 percent who think they shouldn’t receive any differential treatment from their smoking co-workers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 37.8 million people in the U.S. — or 15.5 percent of the population — smoke cigarettes. It also predicts that smoking causes a loss of $156 billion in productivity each year.
Joe Mercurio, who managed the survey for Halo, told USA Today that on average, a smoker wastes six days of work each year during cigarette breaks.
Some industries appear to be hit harder by smoke breaks than others. For example, smokers in the technology industry lose 20.5 days of work during their breaks each year, the study found, while those in real estate only lose 5.1 days of productivity over a year.