Trade a Smoke Break for Vacation? An HR Dilemma

Cut out your smoking breaks and get an extra day off.

Fair trade? The answer is probably largely based on how coveted those smoke breaks are for you.

The people at however, have started a movement claiming that smoking breaks are costing the economy millions of productivity hours a year. Not an outlandish claim (but largely debatable) - and they want to reward people for NOT taking smoking breaks. Their pitch: Cut out your smoke breaks... or keep NOT taking them... and get an extra vacation day.

They theorize that if you are taking 4 smoke breaks a day, at 10 minutes/break, then you are spending 3 1/2 hours a week puffing. That translates into 175 hours a year. That's more than 4 full weeks! So, says, if you choose not to smoke, it's a win-win for health and business... and they are going to get you an extra day off.

Umm... okay. How? Well, the smoke-break folks aren't exactly clear on that - other than they say they need lots of followers to join together to send a message to corporations.

I'm not a "smoker" (I'd define a "smoker" as someone who lights one up on a normal basis, without any liquor in them - just so we're clear). In fact, no one in our office is a "smoker". However, we continually see smokers outside of our office window throughout the day. It would be a nice break 3 or 4 times a day - if, of course, I was a "smoker".

I also understand that there are some people out there who simply need their fix 3-4 times a day. And if they can't smoke inside, who am I to to say they can't go outside and do it? For instance - I love chocolate mini-donuts (Mickey's, to be exact) - and I know they aren't good for me. But I can sit at my desk and down those things all day. They are only making numero-uno chunky.

So, on the one hand, it seems that employers have a responsibility to keep breaks even for all employees, but at the same time allowing smokers to do what they need to do.

Would you implement a program that gave people a day off for NOT taking smoke breaks?

Views: 128

Comment by Robin Stanton on May 21, 2010 at 12:23pm
Interesting question, Sean. My employer gives everyone two 15 minute breaks, plus a half hour for lunch, this time is monitored closely for production staff. Smokers can choose to use their breaks to light up, non-smokers can use it to pig out. This way is equitable to all. I would not be in favor of giving a day off to people to NOT take a smoke break, perhaps it would work better in a small office but in our corporate business setting I don't believe it would be valuable.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on May 21, 2010 at 11:44pm
Seems silly to me. Then the eaters would want an extra day for not eating, the frequent flyer to the ladies room would want an extra day off for waiting two hours longer to make the trip. the fresh air crowd would want an extra day for not walking around the building. When we start rewarding or punishing for what employees do or do not do on breaks we have moved from the ridiculous to the sublime. Would you give a week for the junkies not to shoot up in the bathroom, probably not. It might however be worth an extra day off for the obsessive talkers to shut up except for two 15 minute babble breaks.


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