A Japanese firm is giving non-smoking employees six extra paid leaves

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Are non-smokers more productive as workers? A Japanese firm seems to think so. The company is granting extra paid leaves to employees who do not smoke. The step was taken in September after an employee suggested the measure earlier in the year. 

The non-smoking employees of Tokyo-based marketing firm Piala Inc. complained that they were working more than the staff who took time off for smoking cigarettes during office hours, The Telegraph reported. Now, the company is granting non-smoking employees an extra six days of paid holidays a year. 

"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", Hirotaka Matsushima, a spokesman for the company told The Telegraph. The company's CEO Takao Asuka agreed to give the non-smoking employees extra paid leaves to compensate. 

Piala Inc's head office is on the 29th floor of a building in Tokyo. For a cigarette break, an employee has to go to the basement level. According to an estimate, each smoking break lasts for around 15 minutes.

Till October 30, 30 out of 120 employees have reportedly availed the free holidays. 

"I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion", Asuka, the Piala Inc CEO, told Kyodo News. Matsushma informed that the scheme has already encouraged four people to give up smoking. 

Piala Inc is not the first Japanese company to take steps for discouraging smoking. In June, Lawson Inc, an operator of 24-hour convenience stores, banned smoking in its head office and regional offices.

In July, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike made plans to impose a smoking ban in public places across the city ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics. However, the proposal is likely to face resistance from pro-smoking politicians, restaurateurs and cigarette manufacturing giant Japan Tobacco, which is one-third government-owned and paid the state $700m in dividends in 2015, Independent reported.

According to the World Health Organisation, 21.7 percent of Japanese adults smoke, although the figure is higher among males and older generations.

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