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While progress has been slow and begrudging, anti-smoking movements are finally starting to gain traction in Japan. For example, smoking is largely banned in train stations, except for in designated enclosed smoking spaces, and even many of those are being removed.

Likewise, when smartphone advertising firm Adways moved into a new office, management saw it as a chance to rethink how to make the workplace more comfortable for nonsmokers, and came up with a solution that uses a mix of technology and simple common courtesy.

As part of its recent expansion, Adways recently hired a new batch of employees, bringing the number of workers up to about 400. Having outgrown their old office, the company decided to transfer its operations to new digs in the Shinuku Grand Tower.

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In Japan, when a new business or office opens, clients and well-wishers send letters of congratulations and bouquets of flowers. It’s a nice gesture, and smells great, which was just one more incentive for the company to do something from keeping the new workspace from filling up with the smell of cigarette smoke.

Like at many Japanese companies, the employees of Adways don’t have private offices. Instead, everyone sits beside one another at desks, and the view is more or less unobstructed from one end of the single-floor office to the other.

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One section of the office is set aside as an employee lounge. With vending machines, tables, and sofas, the Adways staff can use it for informal meetings or a short recharging break.

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At either end of the lounge is also where you’ll find the smoking areas for Adways’ roughly 200 smoking staff members. These are semi-enclosed, and signs ask that the people making use of them blow their smoke towards the wall and away from the general-use area of the lounge.

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Before employees can enter the smoking area, though, there’s a process they have to go through. In front of each of the two spaces is a tablet. First, the smoker has to enter his or her name, as well as confirm that the maximum occupancy of eight hasn’t been exceeded.

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Upon exiting, the employee has to sign out of the room, as well as input the number of cigarettes smoked. While there’s no limit on how much any one person is allowed to smoke, each of the two smoking spaces has a limit of 12,000 cigarettes per month, for a grand total of 24,000. Should the limit be exceeded, the smoking space will be shut down for the following calendar month.

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Assuming 20 workdays a month, a little number crunching spits out an average of 6 cigarettes per day for Adways’ 200-some smokers. Smoking and self-control aren’t usually associated with each other, but in this case there’s an additional cultural impetus at play. Japanese society places a heavy emphasis on not inconveniencing others, and simple math tells smokers that should they decide to blow past the mathematical average, they’re essentially taking away from others’ share.

Granted, six cigarettes for a single work shift isn’t exactly a draconian, or even particularly healthy, limit. Still, it’s a start, and we’re sure Adways’ non-smoking employees appreciate being able to sit in the lounge and have a cup of tea without the smell of smoke seeping into their clothes, plus being able to sit next to smoking coworkers who stink a little bit less than they might otherwise.

Photos: RocketNews24
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