One company in Japan, where smoking is deeply ingrained into culture, made a decision to do something about it.
Just under 50 percent of major American employers surveyed previous year said they included a surcharge on insurance policies for smokers, at a median rate of $600 annually, according to Willis Towers Watson, the benefits consultant that conducted the survey of companies with at least 1,000 workers.
The initiative named as "Sumokyu"- wordplay on the word "smoke" and a Japanese word for "break" - was rolled out by a Tokyo-based online marketing consultant Piala on September 1 after an employee complained about the time lost because the colleagues went smoking.
The frequent cigarette breaks meant many employees were away from their desks upwards of 15 minutes each day, Matsushima added. "Our CEO saw the comment and agreed, so we are giving nonsmokers some extra time off to compensate".
As per a study by World Health Organisation and US Cancer Institute, smoking is costing United States dollars 1 trillion to the world economy, which is way more than global revenues from tobacco taxes.
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About 130,000 people die every year in Japan of smoking-related diseases, and an additional 15,000 die of secondhand smoke-related conditions, Susan Mercado, a World Health Organization official tells The Japan Times. Reportedly, a lot of staff who used to smoke have quit smoking owing to this incentive.
Tokyo's governor is hoping to enact a ban on smoking in public places before the Games arrive, though will likely have trouble pushing that through.
So far, however, the measure taken by Piala Inc. seems to be working.
Japanese marketing firm Piala is rewarding nonsmokers in the best way it knows how: with vacation days.
Since the introduction of the policy no fewer than 30 people out of the total 120 have availed the policy.