WEP 161117 – Extra holidays for non-smokers

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A Japanese company has decided to grant its non-smoking staff an additional six days of holiday a year to make up for the time off smokers take for cigarette breaks.


Read and check you understand this before you read and listen to the article:

grant: to give, to permit

allowance: an amount of money paid regularly to someone

spokesman: an official (male) representative

staff: the people working at a company

following: after

matter: a question, an issue, a problem, a topic

scheme: a programme, a plan

quit smoking: to stop smoking, to give up smoking

tougher: stricter, more serious

across Japan: everywhere in Japan, in different places in Japan

ban: a prohibition

ahead of: before, prior to



Marketing firm Piala Inc. introduced the new paid leave allowance in September after non-smokers complained they were working more than their colleagues who smoked.

Hirotaka Matsushima, a spokesman for the company, told The Telegraph newspaper: “One of our non-smoking staff members put a message in the company suggestion box earlier in the year saying that smoking breaks were causing problems.”

Following the suggestion, the company’s CEO Takao Asuka decided to give non-smoking employees extra time off to compensate, Mr Matsushima added.

The matter has been taken seriously by the Tokyo-based company which is located on the 29th floor of an office block — making any cigarette break last at least 15 minutes because smokers take a few minutes to get downstairs and another few to come back up again, according to staff.

Mr Asuka hopes the scheme will create an incentive for the company’s staff to quit smoking.

Efforts to reduce the number of smokers and impose tougher anti-smoking regulations have been seen across Japan in recent months.

In July, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike made plans to impose a smoking ban in public places across the Japanese capital ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics.

But the proposal is likely to encounter strong opposition from pro-smoking politicians, restaurant owners and particularly from cigarette-manufacturing giant Japan Tobacco, which is one third government-owned, and paid the state $700m in dividends in 2015.

The World Health Organisation ranks Japan at the bottom of the list in anti-smoking regulations in terms of the type of public places entirely smoke-free, and around 18 per cent of the Japanese population are believed to smoke.

“Let’s chat about that!”

Write your answers in an email and send them to your ECP coach!

  • Do you smoke or have you ever been a smoker?
  • Are you happy that smoking is no longer legal in public spaces here? Why (not)?
  • To what extent do you think smoking can interfere with a company’s productivity?
  • Do you think the company’s decision to give non-smokers six days off is fair?
  • What else could companies do to encourage their employees to quit smoking?


adapted from: www.independent.co.uk/news/




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About English Coaching Projects S.Coop.

Based in Vitoria-Gasteiz in the Basque Country in northern Spain, English Coaching Projects is a cooperative of English coaches. Our aim is to motivate learners of English to achieve their full potential. To do this we combine coaching techniques, English language training skills and technology with flexibility, commitment and a great sense of humour. Part of our service is the ‘Weekly English Practice’ magazine that we send out to our learners every week. It is designed to motivate learners to practice their English on a regular basis, and also to encourage them to communicate with their coach before and after each session. This blog allows you to use this resource whenever you want and wherever you are. We hope it is useful! From the heart of the Basque Country: Rob, John, Kez, Darren and Ali.

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