But instead of punishing the smokers, the company wound up rewarding the non-smokers, giving them six extra vacation days a year. It was apparently unfair that smokers spent 15 minutes each for a cigarette break, which meant they spent 40 minutes a day away from their desks. 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.
Piala Inc., a Tokyo-based marketing firm, introduced a policy last month granting six extra paid holidays per year to non-smoking employees to make up for the cigarette breaks of employees who do smoke.
"In the United Kingdom, 70% of smokers actively want to quit so there's definitely an opportunity for companies to deliver cost-effective solutions that help them achieve their goals".
"One of our nonsmoking staff put a message in the company suggestion box earlier in the year saying that smoking breaks were causing problems", Hirotaka Matsushma, a representative for Piala Inc., told The Telegraph.
According to the World Health Organization, 21.7 percent of Japanese smoke.
Smoking is a big part of Japan's business culture, with office buildings often offering indoor smoking rooms.
The company came to its envy-inducing vacation policy decision after a group of non-smoking employees complained about the issue. Many workplaces, along with bars and restaurants, still have smoking rooms.
Despite a downward trend in recent years in the use of tobacco products in Japan, nearly 20 percent of the population still smokes. The figure is expected to change as the government has been putting effort to impose tougher anti-smoking laws ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
As you can see in the photo below, public spaces in Japan are eerily reminiscent of what US customers might have encountered before statewide bans took off in the mid-1990s.