Japanese company offers non-smoking employees extra week off work

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TOKYO (CNN) -- A Tokyo-based marketing firm began giving non-smoking employees six more days off per year after an employee complained that those who smoked were able to take breaks throughout the day and thus worked less, CNN reports.

"We don't give punishment for smoking," said a company spokesperson. "Instead, we offer a benefit for not smoking."

The spokesman told CNN that smokers "spend about 15 minutes each for a cigarette break." Altogether, the company found that cigarette breaks kept employees away from their desks for about 40 minutes a day.

The company introduced the new vacation incentive in September, and since the announcement, four out of 42 smokers on staff quit, the spokesperson said.

In Japan, CNN reports about one in five adults smoke, and offices and public places often utilize smoking rooms. However, the Japanese government has been trying to crack down on public smoking before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In fact, many companies have begun banning employees from smoking at work.

Last year, local media outlets reported the Japanese Health Ministry had ordered officials to go for a walk after smoking so that the smell of tobacco would not affect others in the workplace.