Ban even forbids smoking in the surrounding neighborhood on weekends and holidays.

Compared to most other nations of similar economic development, Japan’s smoking regulations are decidedly lax, with the sale and use of tobacco products still allowed in many public and private spaces for which other countries have installed blanket bans.

Attitudes are slowly changing, though, as more people are speaking out against the dangers smoking, including the nuisance and adverse health effects of second-hand smoke. Along with calls for stricter smoking regulations from the government, some Japanese companies have put their own anti-smoking policies into effect, and now one organization is prohibiting its employees from smoking not just in the workplace, but on their way to and from the office as well.

Skylark Group operates Skylark, Gusto, and Johnathon, three of Japan’s most popular casual restaurant chains. Roughly 300 employees work at its headquarters in Muashino City (which is part of Tokyo). Like many offices in Japan, Skylark Group’s headquarters has designated smoking areas inside the building, and also allows smoking on the roof.

However, that’s changing at the end of the month. As of December, smoking will not be allowed anywhere in the building. What’s more, Skylark Group will prohibit employees from smoking anywhere between the building and the closest train station or bus stop. In other words, employees will not be allowed to smoke even when they’re outside company property. The ban will remain in effect even on weekends and holidays.

A majority of Skylark Group’s executives are non-smokers, and the company’s PR department says the new regulations are “a natural progression” of anti-smoking policies that were begun in 2014. In addition to improving the health of employees’ and their families, a goal of the program is to avoid employees stepping out to smoke while standing in front of local convenience stores, a common practice in Japan that often turns the area in front of the shop’s entrance into a haze of second-hand smoke that customers, employees, and passersby have to walk through.

As strict as Skylark Group’s new regulation may be, the company has no plans to levy fines or disciplinary action against employees who do smoke while on their way to or from the office. Those spotted doing so will be cautioned by their supervisors, though, and the aim appears to be to prevent smoking by creating an atmosphere where employees feel awkward smoking in front of coworkers.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News/Mainichi Shimbun via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso