Japanese firm gives one-week paid holiday to nonsmokers

A Japanese company has given its nonsmoking staff members an extra one-week paid holiday as a bonus.

Piala company’s planning director, Hirotaka Matsushima, said on Thursday that the company, which has 120 employees and works in the field of marketing, began offering the bonus to nonsmokers in September.

Matsushima said the extra vacation is compensation for nonsmokers for the smoking breaks taken by their colleagues who smoke.

“Yes, it’s pretty popular,” said Matsushima, who is himself among the nonsmoking members of the Tokyo-based company.

Piala was founded in 2004 and provides advertising and automated marketing services for direct marketers and other firms.

Matsushima said most of Piala’s staff members are nonsmokers and only one-third of the company’s employees smoke.

In Japan, almost 20 percent of over-20-year-olds say they smoke. Nearly 40 percent of men in their 30s say they smoke.

According to figures released by the Japanese government, the number of smokers has declined to half compared to 2001.

The reduction in smoking is attributed to more public awareness to the harm caused by tobacco consumption.

Most offices and public areas have special spaces designated for smoking, while cities are gradually restricting smoking in public areas. Restaurants and bars, however, still allow smoking in general.

Smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or hookahs are extremely harmful to health. The habit is linked to cancer and respiratory disease and has been recognized by medics as the most common “preventable cause of death.”

Health experts says quitting smoking can reverse effects caused by smoking.

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