Voices
in
Japan

poll

An increasing number of companies in Japan have banned employees from smoking during their work hours, aiming to resolve low productivity caused by their smoking breaks. Do you agree with this policy?

64 Comments
© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

64 Comments
Login to comment

Yes.

4 ( +12 / -8 )

No, it's ridiculous.

If you wan't to get higher productivity, get your employees to do their daily work in 8 hours and go home in time.

8 ( +20 / -12 )

Fine, ban coffee breaks and toilet visits too.. , all should sit at desk 8h with no moving., and work harder.

-6 ( +13 / -19 )

Bah...voted down. By a smoker no doubt.

Don't care what you say. It's a filthy,disgusting habit. And anyone who does it should be refused medical care when the ill effects of your "drug addiction" start to manifest.

or....pay a higher premium.

Vote that one down.

8 ( +20 / -12 )

Vote that one down.

I did, thanks. Smokers' taxes fund a myriad of projects that benefit people with impeccable lifestyles such as yourself. I don't smoke myself, because I have other ways to look Big and Clever.

-5 ( +12 / -17 )

Adults should be allowed to do what they like, as long as what they do doesn't harm others. Their insurance rates should reflect these voluntary risks, whether they are speeding or smoking. Behaviours that endanger others (speeding and smoking) should be regulated by law.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

@ClippetyClop

No need to be facetious. I never attacted you personally now did I?

I don't care one jot how much tax they pay or what it's used for. I want to breath clean air when possible. You may enjoy breathing in that muck but I don't.

I don't want to near anyone stupid enough not to listen to established medical facts regarding this filthy habit.

-1 ( +11 / -12 )

I don't think companies should have a right to put limits on what their employees are doing in their private time. However, if employees are taking too many smoke breaks, they should be limited as to the amount of time they can take for smoke breaks.

Don't care what you say. It's a filthy,disgusting habit. And anyone who does it should be refused medical care when the ill effects of your "drug addiction" start to manifest.

Why?

8 ( +11 / -3 )

No need to be facetious. I never attacted you personally now did I?

You seem to be quite sensitive, so I'll apologise for any offense / annoyance caused.

You may enjoy breathing in that muck but I don't.

I certainly don't, but I don't enjoy being behind a truck on my scooter at the traffic lights either. Some things have to be endured though in a society built on compromise and tolerance.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Adults should be allowed to do what they like, as long as what they do doesn't harm others. 

Smoking harms others, particularly those with asthma. It can trigger attacks which can even be fatal. Effects are more extreme on babies and children. With the amount of research and clear data on health risks associated with second-hand smoke, I sometimes wonder why tobacco smoking is not yet as taboo as lead paint. One day hopefully we will get there.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Smoking harms others, particularly those with asthma. It can trigger attacks which can even be fatal.

Then they should be smoking repaonsibly.

But if someone wants to smoke they should be allowed to.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Then they should be smoking repaonsibly.

They should, I agree, but not enough smokers do. In Japan smoking is still allowed in many public places and many people don't think farther than whether it's allowed in that area or not. Designated smoking areas are not far enough away from streets and building entrances etc. My asthmatic roommate had to deal with attacks in her own home because neighbors would smoke on their veranda.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Do you agree with this policy?

Yep.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

They should, I agree, but not enough smokers do.

Ok, then that's a problem that should be solved.

Treating everyone like kids however is not the solution. I don't smoke, but when I want to, I want to be able to.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Adults should be allowed to do what they like, as long as what they do doesn't harm others.

if someone wants to smoke they should be allowed to.

On their own time, yes. But they're being paid to work, not to skive off out back for 15 minutes at a time. Then they come back into the office and continue to breathe fumes over their workmates from their filthy lungs. Not to mention the carcinogens that adhere to the smoker's clothes and hair and waft about whenever they move.

Treating everyone like kids however is not the solution.

People who choose to smoke are acting like kids; they need to be treated like kids, and at least forbidden to inconvenience/harm others.

I don't smoke, but when I want to, I want to be able to.

You are able to, so long as it doesn't affect the work you're being paid to do, and doesn't harm your fellow workers. In other words, you can smoke outside of working hours. Or find a job that allows you to work at home.

they should be smoking repaonsibly.

That's a gigantic oxymoron. A person who decides to smoke, knowing the dangers, is not acting repaonsibly. Or even responsibly. And a person who in this day and age does not know the danger is not fit to be let out alone, never mind hold down a grown-up job.

5 ( +13 / -8 )

The article says 'smoking breaks' 'during work hours'. Companies have the right to dictate what workers can or cannot do during the hours they are paying them to work. You're supposed to be working not taking breaks for a smoke.

Why is this an issue?

5 ( +9 / -4 )

And a person who in this day and age does not know the danger is not fit to be let out alone, never mind hold down a grown-up job.

This is getting ridiculous. They are having a smoke outside the office, not mainlining heroine whilst operating power tools.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Then they should be smoking repaonsibly. 

what a ridiculous thing to say.

What makes you think there is such a thing as smoking responsibly?

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Nobody has any right to any breaks. Coffee, smoking whatever.

you are paid to work. Wanna smoke? Do it on your lunch break and away from folk who make healthier choices.

And stop crying about your “rights”

my rights to breath clean air trumps your drug addiction.

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

What makes you think there is such a thing as smoking responsibly?

I’ve known responsive smokers.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I’ve known responsive smokers.

what is a responsive smoker?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Responsible.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Yeah... *sigh

i know what it means.

I asked what is one.

Example of what you consider to be responsive smoking?

because it has been said it’s an oxymoron.

And it is.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

And that responsiveness should apply to the smoker too right?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Smokers should be able to smoke during their lunch breaks or during tea time but not be able to randomly take other smoke breaks. However, if they give non-smokers the same breaks as smokers then it's all good.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I’m all for that. Because all those breaks add up over the year.

Only fair I’d say.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

People who have died from cancer have relatively low productivity.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

However, if they give non-smokers the same breaks as smokers then it's all good.

They do. Japanese labor laws stipulate that employees may have a one hour break if they work over 8 hours (45 mins for 6 hours work). Workers can take this when they want if it does not interfere with other people's work or the smooth running of the company. Technically, a smoking break should be subtracted from that hour.

In other words, taking a coffee break and reading a newspaper for 10 mins, or having a chat with Noriko in accounts is the same as taking a smoking break. One of my three employees is a smoker. I don't mind him nipping out for a smoke in the same way I don't mind the other two having a kit kat and browsing the web. As long as they don't abuse it and recognize that sometimes work pressures mean they have to abstain for a while.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I loathe coffin nails. Like the accused racist says about his different race acquaintance, I have many friends who smoke. I'm for freedoms, and this is a bit hard, but I'd have to say if sucking cancer sticks interferes with work, I reckon Ye Olde Boss should scold you a bit. I have a family member right now undergoing chemo therapy for lung cancer caused by smoking...

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Example of what you consider to be responsive smoking?

What is responsive smoking?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

An increasing number of companies in Japan have banned employees from smoking during their work hours, aiming to resolve low productivity caused by their smoking breaks. Do you agree with this policy?

I personally do wholeheartedly.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Do it on your time and in your own personal space. Problem solved. Win win for both sides of the line.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Of course productivity is lowered by smoke breaks. Normal non-addicted workers actually work much

harder than the losers who much go outside and smoke every couple of hours or so. The company is paying

them for making health care costs higher for all of us.

One solution is to lower the salaries of smokers as they are such a drag, no pun, on productivity. 20% cut in salary seems about right for wasting so much company time. And of course they should pay higher healthcare costs. It is time for the 80% of us who are not slaves to nicotine to stop subsidizing the losers who do smoke.

Regarding "responsible" smoking, that is ridiculous. Smoking is slow suicide and everyone knows this. There is no such thing as responsible suicide.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

There is something less gratifying about a sip by a water cooler than a drag on a durry outside the back entrance.

Also, in student-directed research on telecom employees a while ago in Sydney and repeated with students and workers as an exercise in Japan, we found students and workers tend not to smoke alone and that conversation is a priority, overwhelmingly about work or study.

Health didn't figure (except mental health only implicitly). So next research question: are exhaustion and stress (and their impact onwork or study of less concern than respiratory and carcenoigentic ailments?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I'm not a smoker, but give them their breaks. There's nothing worse than working with a stressed out ticked off smoker who can't take their break and chill out for two seconds. Same can be said for the coffee addicts. Let them have their coffee breaks. Also, wouldn't kill anyone to let workers off on time but apparently taking away smoke breaks is the bigger problem. People getting off on time means time they can unwind, sleep and come to work refreshed. But, that's just my two cents.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I'm surprised to see so many comments about health when the question is about productivity.

Also surprised to see people think that a 5 minutes break lowers productivity that much.

Want to talk about health ? How about going home early and have a good night sleep ?

Want higher productivity ? What about doing 8 hours of work in 8 hours instead of 15 ?

Low productivity in Japan is simple mathematics : employees spend long hours at work doing nothing productive. If you take 2 hours to do 1 hour of work, your productivity is cut in half. That's not rocket science. A short break for a cigarette, coffee, toilet or anything else changes almost nothing.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Second hand smoke for non-smokers poses a health risk.  I hope they know to segregate smokers from non-smokers.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Welcome to the machine

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Second hand smoke for non-smokers poses a health risk.

For someone working in a smoky establishment - yeah, definitely.

But if you walk past someone smoking and get a whiff of it, it's not going to do anything other than annoy your olfactory glands for a moment.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

My colleague is a smoker, smokes rizlas mostly which is like second hand cigarettes And i don't smoke.

He doesn't drive and i drive. When we have shift together, he waits at one spot near my place, i drive there and we go to work in my car, and later drop him off at same spot.

It takes about 45 mins to an hour drive to work. We have shifts together at least 3 days a week.

Honestly, i cannot handle that situation in my car as i am into healthy lifestyle. But i haven't able to tell him that i cannot just continue this but it has already been over 4 years now.

Is it affecting me in my health? How do i stop this situation as he is too scared to drive and public routes takes 2 hours to go to work, therefore i cannot able to tell him.

His smoky breathe is too disgusting especially when he keeps talking that sometimes i drive without inhaling for short time. In the winter i cannot open the window, too cold. Few times i have avoided by making some stories that i am at different place or at some party. But how do i avoid it completely, i even try to resign but the work is not bad.

Out of 10, what do u think that it is really affecting my health? Will it affect to my family? Will it also affect on my health if i want to have child in the future?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Is he smoking in your car? If so that is bad for your health and if you don’t like it you should ask him to stop. He’d have to be a total a$$hole to say no. But if he just smells, that’s not harmful to your health. Annoying I’m sure. But not harmful.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

But if you walk past someone smoking and get a whiff of it, it's not going to do anything other than annoy your olfactory glands for a moment.

The single raindrop never feels responsible for the flood.

The myth that smoking is an "adult personal choice that doesn't harm anyone else" has been proven false through years of scientific studies on secondhand smoke by multitudes of organizations and medical institutions in many countries. Look it up. I'm a fan of any company or government policy that encourages people to quit and discourages them from even starting. It isn't fair what friends with asthma have to go through because of other's "personal choices that don't harm anyone else" live a few months with someone with asthma you will see what it's like and maybe change your perspective.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I am against smoking but I would accept a responsible smoker, which is someone who asks you if he can smoke nearby you, cleans his throat and smell to come back as nearly any non-smoking worker. I know quite a few.

Why on Earth would you limit freedom to all why it happens on some only ?

If you have specific duties and responsibilities (and correct salary going with it), you have to be limited in your freedom. But if simple Taro, it means enslavement ic law would apply to all, nothing more.

Talking about risks, it is same about driving, paragliding, hunting, trekking,etc. Most things in life involves risk for others. Witch hunt is not doing good.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I miss the gold old days when you could just smoke at your desk....they should bring that back...

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

The single raindrop never feels responsible for the flood.

I addressed the flood in the part of my comment you didn't quote:

Second hand smoke for non-smokers poses a health risk.

For someone working in a smoky establishment - yeah, definitely.

Which is why I started the point that you did quite with a 'but':

But if you walk past someone smoking and get a whiff of it, it's not going to do anything other than annoy your olfactory glands for a moment.

As you can clearly see, your saying does not match the comment I actually made.

The myth that smoking is an "adult personal choice that doesn't harm anyone else" has been proven false through years of scientific studies on secondhand smoke by multitudes of organizations and medical institutions in many countries.

Second hand smoke is only a problem if you are exposed to it. If you (or a child etc) are being exposed to more than an occasional whiff of it, then that's a problem. But it's a problem with the smoking habits of the person smoking. I personally see more harm in preventing adults from making adult decisions, than I do from someone (myself included) getting a whiff of a stinky cigarette. I actually just had it happen, not one hour ago when I went out for a coffee. I gave a little inner-sneer, because it stunk, but I am not even remotely worried about getting cancer or emphysema as a result.

I'm a fan of any company or government policy that encourages people to quit and discourages them from even starting.

Me too! Education and prevention are best.

It isn't fair what friends with asthma have to go through because of other's "personal choices that don't harm anyone else"

What makes you think I haven't?

But we all have our own lives to live, and the right to live them as we see fit, and that includes making mistakes.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I’ve never smoked and dislike the smell and bad habit/littering/rule breaking many smokers do, but banning them from smoking for the whole work day isn’t going to increase productivity when they’re going through cravings and withdrawals unable to focus. Just give everybody a 10-15 minute rest/snack/smoke/toilet break every 3 or so hours like most western companies do. Hasn’t it actually been proven that breaks INCREASE productivity?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Second hand smoke is only a problem if you are exposed to it.

Yes, so no people smoking = no risk of exposure, right? My point is that for some people, even the occasional exposure to secondhand smoke from one person smoking in the vicinity can be enough to trigger an asthma attack. Not everyone can shrug it off as nothing more than a bad smell. Whether it's a whiff drifting by an asthmatic person or a household where parents smoke in the presence of their children, "smoking is an adult decision that doesn't harm others" is a false assumption. That's the point I was trying to make from my first comment.

That's what a good society does, right? We used CFCs, lead paint, asbestos, etc. etc. until it was proven to be harmful, then banned or phased out its use with better alternatives. I think it's high time to move on from tobacco smoke around the world.

In trying to clarify my position I apologize for getting off topic.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yes, so no people smoking = no risk of exposure, right? My point is that for some people, even the occasional exposure to secondhand smoke from one person smoking in the vicinity can be enough to trigger an asthma attack

So can pollen. Shall we ban trees?

I feel for these people, but again this is a problem with irresponsible smoking. People should have the right to smoke if that is their choice.

"smoking is an adult decision that doesn't harm others" is a false assumption

It would be had anyone asserted that.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I think it's high time to move on from tobacco smoke around the world.

I'm sure even most smokers would agree that a world without tobacco would be a better one. Unfortunately governments are as addicted to the taxes on it as smokers are to the cigarettes themselves. I shudder to think what kind of criminal nightmare would be caused by banning tobacco. You'd have a Medellin in every country.

The good news is that smokers are generally decreasing worldwide, non-smokers are protected more and more. Less than two decades ago you could smoke at your desk in Japan.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

In the work environment an employer can insist a person doesn't smoke/drink/watch porn etc. Besides, who wants a member of staff who stinks of fags when at work.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

On the contrary, non-smoker employees should be given the same breaks to do whatever they want, lol

1 ( +3 / -2 )

What one does during one's break time is nobody's business but one's own. Anyway, there is no need to raise productivity -- the level of productivity is just fine.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

All of you fastidious upholders of the purity of our shared air would do well to keep in mind one tiny little fact. Given the relative amounts of carcinogen and, in addition, the unavoidable submicron particulates, in diesel exhaust versus tobacco smoke, if you can smell the diesel exhaust, you have already absorbed the equivalent disease load of about 5 cigarettes smoked 'secondhandily', again, with the addition of carbon particulates which become fixed deep in the lung and keep on giving well beyond anything which secondhand tobacco will give you. In fact, relative to the dose of physiological poison absorbed walking 100 meters outside in, say, Shinjuku or any other urban setting, secondhand cigarette smoke would not even register on the same scale of potential future disease. Again, diesel exhaust not only contains the same poisons as tobacco smoke, it contains purer forms and greater quantities PLUS the particulates that create chronic lung disease (not in tobacco smoke). Where is your outrage toward diesel exhaust? Japanese researchers have even pointed out that diesel exhaust directly damages the developing mammalian testis which, so far, tobacco has not been accused of doing. Where's the OUTRAGE here? Google: diesel exhaust testis Sample search result:

https://www.jstor.org/stable/3434395?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Strangerland:

I don't smoke, but when I want to, I want to be able to.

I agree, as long as you're not negatively affecting others.

In this case the articles cites 'smoking breaks' 'during work hours' as the point of concern. If someone wants to smoke in their own time and place, fine. However ceasing work to take a 'smoking break' 'during work hours' on company time, obviously lowers productivity. All the while, presumably other workers do not have the same liberty to take such time off.

Of course, if everyone involved agreed that agreed upon time limit breaks can be taken for smoking, a snack or anything else, then fine.

Fair don't you think?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

In this case the articles cites 'smoking breaks' 'during work hours' as the point of concern. If someone wants to smoke in their own time and place, fine.

An employee's breaks are their own time. Everyone gets an hour by law in Japan. If my employees use 30 minutes for smoking and 30 minutes for lunch, that's their right.

However ceasing work to take a 'smoking break' 'during work hours' on company time, obviously lowers productivity.

Not as obvious as you think. I often join my business manager on his smoke breaks, as there is a lot of communication that goes on between smokers during those smoke breaks. A change of location, a change of people, and standing around with nothing else to do but talk for a few minutes, is a good communication lubricant. I would never think of telling my business director he's not allowed to smoke on company time, as that is his method of working which works well for him, and therefore for us.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Nope. The stress levels are constantly rising, with virtually zero incentives.

If someone wants to take a couple of minutes for a crafty one, why not?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Strangerland:

An employee's breaks are their own time. Everyone gets an hour by law in Japan. If my employees use 30 minutes for smoking and 30 minutes for lunch, that's their right.

I agree with this if the article's title which states 'during their work hours' is referring to employees 1 hour break time. Do what you want during that 1 hour. However I don't think that is what it's referring to. Taking unauthorized smoking breaks outside allowed break times (when you should be working) is something companies have the right to prohibit if they wish.

You did propose a scenario where smoking while communicating with co-workers does not impede productivity but rather enhances it. I agree that this could be the case. This would be up to company management to analyze and decide.

Generally, I don't think most smokers take their breaks like that though. It seems they usually take smoke breaks to get their minds off work as well as to feed unhealthy addiction.

Also, discouraging smoking for health reasons is a good thing. This will help save worker's lives and preserve their good health which of course helps to maintain productivity.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Generally, I don't think most smokers take their breaks like that though. It seems they usually take smoke breaks to get their minds off work

Again though, not necessarily a bad thing. I often go with them just to reset my head - when I get back I usually find things come quicker. When writing reports or whatever this isn't such a big deal, but when doing anything that requires puzzle solving or creativity, the 10 minutes I'm away is well worth the boost to my work I get afterwards.

Now, I have had to put limits on staff before - I used to have a guy who went for a smoke break every hour. I asked him to either not go so often, or work a little later to make up for it, since he was basically taking an hour plus of smoke breaks every day. He was happy to work longer and continue taking his breaks every hour.

Also, discouraging smoking for health reasons is a good thing. This will help save worker's lives and preserve their good health which of course helps to maintain productivity.

This I agree with fully. For all of my defense of smokers' rights, I'd prefer if none of my staff smoked at all.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Presumably all these workers only work exactly their contractual hours and none of them do overtime to make up for it?

I ask that rhetorically because in Japan they are likely to be working long hours anyway, more than making up for their cigarette breaks. The same could be said for tea or coffee breaks.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yes, smoking should be totally banned at the workplace, disgusting. Now if you're on break and you can go outside, far away or a closed room to contain that poison, then you should be regulated to those areas. Companies, restaurants, bars should prohibit smoking.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Companies, restaurants, bars should prohibit smoking.

Big government, anti-freedom.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'd like to take occasional breaks just to go outside and watch Youtube/Netflix videos (I'll lie and say I was smoking, lol)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Anti-smoking is a type of discrimination. It should not be allowed.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Smoking should be banned everywhere. If people want to smoke, they should inhale all that smoke into their own lungs.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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