Here
and
Now

kuchikomi

Aeon tightens rules on employees who smoke

19 Comments

The Aeon supermarket chain recently announced it would impose new regulations on smoking by employees that has spurred controversy.

J-Cast News (Jan 26) reports that the company, a major retailer employing some 450,000 workers, has announced that effective Jan 25, smoking would be banned during working hours, and on the company's premises. And this ban on cigarettes extends to 45 minutes prior to the start of working time -- the idea being that the ashes and other particles may cling to the smoker's clothing, which may be injurious to others.

The reaction was swift in coming, with posts on Twitter demanding, "Let workers do what they want before starting work!" and "Do employers have this kind of control over their employees' behavior?"

Inquiring to the company, J-Cast News reporter was informed that "This is a revision of our work rules and is still at the stage of being finalized."

Its next stop was to ask an attorney if one's employer had the right to impose such restrictions on staff outside of their working hours. According to Aeon's news release, the restrictions would go into effect from around the end of March.

When J-Cast News inquired to the company's spokesperson as to whether employees teleworking from home would also be affected, it was informed that they would, but smoking would be permitted during their breaks.

This is not the first time Aeon has made news concerning smoking. In 2018, it initiated an incentive system that paid employees to quit smoking, and in July of the following year the company's headquarters offices in Mihama Ward, Chiba City became completely smoke free. The company justified its latest rule by saying it was in support of "health for our workers and their families." The company has harnessed a variety of methods, including online therapy, to wean staff members from cigarettes.

Some of the tweets were solidly in favor of Aeon's new rule and praised the company management. "The odor of cigarettes is a turnoff when meeting customers," posted one. "I think it will be nice to be able to shop in a fresh environment," said another. Others, however, hotly expressed their opposition, arguing that the rule constituted an intrusion on workers' personal lives.

So where does the law stand in this case? J-Cast News queried attorney Kensho Masaki in the Amane Law Office in Tokyo.

"According to studies by the University of Occupational and Environmental Health, it takes about 45 minutes for particles deposited from smoking and the exhaling of smoke to dissipate," said Masaki. "And from the potential to impact on other parties, this rule appears to be both necessary and practical. If challenged, the 45-minute rule stands a good chance of being upheld."

"On the other hand," Masaki continues, "employees who are psychologically inconvenienced by such a ruling may seek compensation," he continues. "In recent years, the harmful effects of smoking on both smokers and passive smokers has been recognized and resulted in more bans on smoking. Under these circumstances, I suppose that even if employees lose smoking opportunities and argue that they suffered mental distress as a result, their employer may face some degree of liability, but only in limited cases, such as abuse of the employer's authority."

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments
Login to comment

Great idea. Smokers pollute their clothes and being near them in an enclosed office space is revolting, according to office workers who have complained about it. Aeon is correct to protect their employees. Promoting smoking cessation programs and going to the root of the problem would be even better.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Agree with you Patricia! Good on Aeon!

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Aeon sells cigarettes , don't they?

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Why is this controversial. Many employers around the world ban staff smoking on company time and stinking of ciggies while at work.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Why is this controversial.

Japan is still climbing out of a very deep ashtray. When I first came here in the 1960s, smoking was still permitted on the platforms in subway stations.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This move was inevitable but my local Aeon Mall still has smoking rooms.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Luddite

Why is this controversial. Many employers around the world ban staff smoking on company time and stinking of ciggies while at work.

It's controversial because they are considering banning staff smoking during their own personal time, for the 45 minutes prior to being on company time.

I'm all for rules against smoking during work hours on company property. And, offering incentives for employees to quit smoking. But, this rule does walk a fine line between reasonable workplace rules of conduct and infringement of employees non-workplace personal rights.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Then they should also be clocked in for those first 45 minutes before hitting the isles.

And how are you going to check up on those working remotely. There are video cams on laptops, but no smell devices at least yet. Actually I cannot wait for that tech. That will be awesome.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

As a smoker myself I will consider that when go for shopping... well, of course they are too big to fail, but hopefully may the market wipe them out of business and bring their profits and shares down to zero one day sooner or later. People’s private habits and preferences is just not their business. They want their big freedom and I want my small one!

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

hopefully may the market wipe them out of business and bring their profits and shares down to zero one day sooner or later.

Just because you want to smoke yourself into an early grave. Typical self-centered, vindictive smoker.

Aeon shares have gone up around 50% in the last couple of years. Hopefully this move will push them even higher.

Go Aeon!

People’s private habits and preferences is just not their business.

So long as you keep it private. The minute you breathe your filthy, nicotine-laden breath into my air, it becomes my business.

Well done Aeon. I shop there often and will be even more inclined to shop there in the future.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

And this ban on cigarettes extends to 45 minutes prior to the start of working time

Good thing I only smoke cigars then

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Q: "Do employers have this kind of control over their employees' behavior?"

A: This is Japan, right?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Well done Aeon! Nothing worse than the stench of cancer-causing cigarette smoke, and the idiocy / selfishness of those that produce it.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Grandfather smoked a pipe, used to put in his pocket and from time to time set himself on fire.

I always remember the smell of pipe smoke when I was a child.

Smoking, apart from the health and anti-social implications/connotations will continue to be curbed both inside and outside of working environments.

I would like for Aeon to offer employees smoking/nicotine dependency counselling, and medical assistance.

I can state from business experience the investment in employee healthcare is worth every yen

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Cigarette smoke sucks and second hand smoke can't be any good, either.

I once dated a very nice girl but she smoked.  It was like kissing an ashtray (I suppose, as I never actually kissed an ashtray).  However, she had a couple of attributes that helped me overcome the ashtray-like kisses.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Great news, all employers should follow suit. I would like to see tobacco smoking illegal after a few years of massive tax increases on cigarettes.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Aeon sells cigarettes , don't they?

My first thought too. Not so long ago, they even lobbied to lift the ban on booze and tobacco sales outside specialised shops and even to get allowed to sell the addictive stuff 24/7 in their kombinis.

Q: "Do employers have this kind of control over their employees' behavior?"

Only with low status 'employees'. When it's a jet pilot, the company is too shy to tell him to not to show up at work drunk.  

And this ban on cigarettes extends to 45 minutes prior to the start of working time

Oh fair as long as they pay the employee 45 minutes of additional time per shift.

That's just some new staff abuse. The only goal is to impress bachans with lesson-giving PR.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There is still a smoking area on Kintetsu lines in Osaka. Ridiculous.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

On the platform that is.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites