New York Times, November 2, 2017
Matthew Haag

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Over the summer, employees at a Japanese marketing firm noticed that not all of their colleagues were working the same number of hours.

About one-third of the people at the company, Piala, were smokers and stepped away from their desks during the day for cigarette breaks. Despite the time the smokers were away from work, everyone left the office for the night at the same time.

Nonsmokers at the agency complained about the unfairness to the chief executive, whose response in September has drawn attention in a country where tobacco use remains popular and workers take few days off. Employees at Piala who did not smoke, the company announced, would be rewarded with up to six additional vacation days a year.

“I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion,” Takao Asuka, the company’s chief executive, told The Japan Times.

So far, the incentive has had some success. After the offer was announced in September, four employees decided to give up smoking, the company said. [...]

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