Would ex­tra hol­i­days help smok­ers to quit?

The Corkman - - OPINION - With Deborah Cole­man

AS a na­tion we are al­ways be­ing warned of the strain that poor habits such as smok­ing or drink­ing puts on the health ser­vice so it was in­ter­est­ing to read that in Ja­pan they are tak­ing a novel ap­proach to en­cour­age peo­ple to smoke less.

Com­pa­nies are to of­fer an ex­tra six-days paid leave to work­ers who do not take smok­ing breaks - in a bid to level the play­ing field and of­fer an in­cen­tive to smok­ers to kick the habit.

I don’t know many smok­ers who wouldn’t like to smoke less and re­duce their con­sump­tion and there is no deny­ing that this would be quite the car­rot on a stick to help them in this re­gard.

How­ever, the ques­tion is - why should em­ploy­ers be the ones to foot the bill sim­ply be­cause some of their staff hap­pen to smoke?

Is it not up to the in­di­vid­ual how they man­age their health and whether they want to give up or not? It is a per­sonal de­ci­sion whether or not to smoke and it re­ally shouldn’t even be an is­sue at work.

The prob­lem arises when smok­ers get into the habit of tak­ing reg­u­lar breaks to in­dulge their habit. They pop out here and there for a quick smoke while their non-smok­ing col­leagues do not.

In many jobs, it is not an is­sue - for in­stance if a per­son is in a po­si­tion to use their lunch break for a num­ber of shorter smok­ing breaks and it doesn’t af­fect their pro­duc­tiv­ity then that is a mat­ter for them and their em­ployer. How­ever, if we are talk­ing about a job which only per­mits breaks at very spe­cific and pre-ap­proved times - then of course there could be a prob­lem.

Th­ese type of de­bates turn in to a smoker verses non-smoker ar­gu­ment all the time and the point here is not re­ally about that - it is about equal­ity and in the work­place staff mem­bers should en­ti­tled to the same amount of time off - whether for breaks or hol­i­days.

If em­ploy­ers are will­ing to per­mit dozens of smoke breaks through­out the work­ing week then in the­ory they would have to ap­prove the same level of breaks for the rest of their staff and then it would turn into a re­volv­ing door of em­ploy­ees go­ing in and out all day long.

That said, if com­pa­nies were happy to of­fer ex­tra hol­i­days to those who don’t smoke in Ire­land then I think there would cer­tainly be quite a num­ber of peo­ple more than happy to kick the habit.

If com­pa­nies were happy to of­fer ex­tra hol­i­days to those who don’t smoke in Ire­land then I think there would cer­tainly be quite a num­ber of peo­ple more than happy to kick the habit.

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