Nomura tells staff not to smoke cigarettes while working from home

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Nomura Holdings Inc. has told its staff in Japan not to smoke during working hours — even if they’re working from home.

The country’s biggest brokerage sent a memo to employees on Tuesday outlining the new policy that will come into effect in October, spokesman Yoshitaka Otsu said by phone. The company will close all smoking rooms being managed by the Nomura Group by the end of December.

The rules will be based on mutual trust and don’t include a punitive clause, Otsu said. The company doesn’t plan to monitor whether employees working remotely are following the guidelines. Nomura is introducing the measures to create a favorable working environment, prevent secondhand smoking and promote employee health, it said in a separate statement on Wednesday.

“There needs to be an environment in which everyone is healthy and can live energetically in order for employees to fully demonstrate their ability and character,” it said.

Nomura is the latest Japanese firm to take action against smoking as the health risks associated with cigarettes draw increasing attention. Calbee Inc., a snacks manufacturer, prohibited smoking during working hours in 2018 because the health of its employees and their families was “essential” for the company to grow, according to spokeswoman Marina Fukaya.

Ajinomoto Co., a food products maker, instituted a no-smoking-while-working policy in 2019, which also applies to staff working remotely, a spokesman said. Still, he acknowledged that the company had no ability to police or control employees who work at home.

Nomura is seeking to reduce the smoking rate among its employees in Japan to 12% by 2025, compared with 20% in March 2020, according to its website. The brokerage has been providing financial aid to help workers quit since 2017, Otsu said.

The brokerage’s latest policy also strongly recommends that people keep away from its offices for 45 minutes after smoking at lunch time or breaks to prevent “third-hand smoking,” Otsu said.

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