Jogi says stress cigarette his business

German football trainer Joachim Löw has rejected criticism of his smoking a cigarette during the quarter final match against Portugal at the end of last week, saying it was his private business.

Jogi says stress cigarette his business
Says he has no problem with cigs. Photo:DPA

Löw, who was banned to a spectator box during the match for an infringement during the previous game, was seen smoking a cigarette while his 11 players were running their hearts out on the pitch.

Social Democrat politician Lothar Binding had criticized the trainer as giving a bad example by smoking in public.

But Löw told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, “What should I say about it? It is my private thing. I am just human, with strengths and weaknesses. I smoke a cigarette sometimes, or drink a glass of red wine in the evening. It is not as if I am a hedonist.”

He said he had smoked the cigarette during a stressful time, and was aware that he was seen as a hero by many.

But he said he tried to act as a good example through his work with the team and players, showing qualities of concentration, optimism, modesty and ambition.

He said it was not as if he had difficulty giving up smoking, saying, “I have to clear up a misunderstanding. I never fail when trying to give up, rather I take a break from it now and again. After the Euro 2008 is finished I will try to not smoke until the end of the year.”

The Germans beat Portugal 3-2 to make it into the semi final where they will face Turkey on Wednesday.

On Saturday night Russia pulled off a surprise win, with the youngest team in the tournament, knocking out Holland and lining up a semi final against the winner of Sunday evening’s match between Italy and Spain.


German restaurant owner gives non-smoking employees extra holiday

Would you give up smoking for more time off work? A restaurant owner in the western German state of Rhineland Palatinate has started offering employees who don’t smoke five days of extra holiday.

German restaurant owner gives non-smoking employees extra holiday
Glas (r) and head chef Grüning sit at a table in the restaurant designated for non-smokers. Photo: DPA

“I give employees who don’t smoke five days more annual leave to compensate them for the extra cigarette breaks taken by smokers,” said Helmut Glas. 

Some may see this as patronising, but in his eyes it helps keep the peace at work. 

“Before you could sense some hostility toward the employees who smoke. You’d hear non-smokers mutter things like ‘oh, he’s off for another cigarette break’,” said the 44-year-old restaurateur. 

READ ALSO: Germany set to ban cigarette street ads from 2022

“And they have a point: if you tally up the extra breaks that smokers take, you won’t believe how much working time is lost.” Now, he says, peace has been restored. 

Glas, who runs the country inn Jägerstübchen in the town of Neustadt, remembers exactly when he came up with the idea to offer non-smokers more holidays.

Conflict resolution

“I announced the decision at the Christmas party. It received quite the reception,” explained Glas. He had sounded out the idea beforehand and was therefore largely greeted with approval.

“When I told my employees one of the smokers said ‘great, now I won’t have to deal with rude comments every time I take a cigarette break’’”. Five of his employees smoke and seven don’t – and he doesn’t smoke either. 

One of his employees tried to quit smoking to receive more annual leave, but Glas caught him in the basement with a cigarette. The employee may not have kept the extra holiday, but at least he kept his job, said Glas.

Glas in his restaurant. Photo: DPA

His head chef Steffan Grüning, on the other hand, is trying to persevere: he has given up after smoking for 15 years. 

“The prospect of getting more annual leave was the key motivating factor”, explained the chef. Before a pack of cigarettes would barely last him two days. “The initiative is definitely improving the atmosphere at work,” said the 32-year-old.

But is he not annoyed that he’s received five more days of annual leave this year, only to be stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic? “I don’t mind,” says Grüning with a smile, “the main thing is that I have more time off.”

According to data from 2017, 26.4 percent of men and 18.6 percent of women in Germany over the age of 15 are smokers.

Is the policy lawful?

For labour law specialist Nathalie Oberthür, offering additional leave for non-smokers is generally permissible from a legal perspective. “The employees who smoke have more free time because they take more breaks, and so offering extra leave can compensate non-smokers,” she says.

But the decision to grant extra leave should not be taken on the grounds of whether someone smokes or not, rather whether they take additional breaks to smoke. 

Opinion: Why Germany needs to take the smoking ban more seriously

“Anyone who only uses their official breaks to smoke should also receive the extra holiday leave,” said Oberthür. If the distinction were being made solely to punish smokers, that would be unlawful. 

The German Hotel and Restaurant Association (Dehoga) also see the policy as justifiable. “If the employees agree with the decision, then it can be seen as good conflict resolution in the workplace”, said Gereon Haumann, regional boss for Dehoga Rhineland-Palatinate. He agrees that working time is definitely lost through smoking breaks.

Improved efficiency 

“Employees that don’t keep popping out for breaks are simply more productive”, says Glas. “Before you know it that’s ten minutes gone.” 

German employees are not legally entitled to extra smoking breaks. Courts in Germany have made it clear many times that the need for an occasional cigarette is not considered a legitimate reason to interrupt work. 

According to a Hamburg University study published in 2009 by the German Cancer Research Center, smoking breaks cost German companies more than €28 billion a year. 

“I am pleased that the idea has gone down so well amongst my employees. They could have kicked up a real fuss about it,” said Glas.

“As we are a small company it’s possible to maintain such a policy here.” A larger business like the chemicals company BASF would definitely find it more difficult to implement. 

Glas was saddened when he received anonymous hate for his decision on the Internet. “I was accused of discriminating against smokers and told that I’m a nutcase who deserves to be sued” “he said. 

That meant he was all the more pleased when he received a letter from his health insurance provider. 

“They find the idea interesting and want to know more about it –  also as a means of preventative health care,” he said, implying that employees could be inclined not to smoke due to what it would cost them.