Smoking is injurious to health but is still widely consumed all over the world. In India, nearly 267 million adults are users of tobacco, the World Health Organisation suggests. Taking a ‘sutta break’ during working hours is a ritual that most employees follow at the workplace. Cigarettes, chai, and chit-chat with our co-workers come as a respite, especially during long, exhausting hours. However, in Japan, smoke breaks are injurious to your salary.

We tell you how. Recently, a Japanese employee smoked more than 4,500 times in 14 years at his workplace. The employee had to pay a heavy price for indulging in smoking during work hours.

According to The Straits Times, on Monday, the 61-year-old senior civil servant was allegedly penalized with a hefty fine of over ₹9 lakh for taking smoke breaks. The employee, who works in the prefecture’s finance department in Osaka, was fined along with two co-workers and will receive 10 per cent pay cut for six months for repeatedly smoking during work hours. All of them were given multiple warnings from their supervisors before the penalty, the report suggests.

These employees were initially investigated in September last year after the HR department found out about their smoking habits at work. However, they didn’t take the warning seriously and lied about their smoke breaks during a follow-up interview in December, it adds.

As per the portal, the 61-year-old employee, who took 4,512 smoke breaks for 355 hours and 19 minutes, has allegedly violated “duty of devotion” under the Local Public Service Act. He was asked to return 1.44 million yen (₹8,93,488 approximately) from salary along with his disciplinary wage reduction.

Osaka has strict no-smoking rules in government premises. According to Japan Travel, in April 2020, a new law prohibiting indoor smoking in restaurants, hotels, and offices came into the effect in the nation. As per the website, the rule states that if there is a sign that reads, “designated heated tobacco smoking room”, guest over 20 may enter and can smoke heated tobacco. It strictly bans rolled tobacco or anything other than heated tobacco.

Do you take smoke breaks?