NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- Many bars and restaurants are smoke free. And now one local hospital is joining the trend. Come November 15 New Hanover Regional Medical Center will ban the use of all tobacco products on their property. The board of trustees just approved the tobacco-free policy. Cigarettes, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco are all included in the ban. And the ban isn't just for employees, it's for patients and visitors too. Hospital workers say the response has been positive. Chief Nurse Executive Mary Ellen Bonezek said, "So far today what I've heard is a couple of folks telling me this was an opportunity they have been waiting for to begin their smoking cessation and to quit smoking themselves." During the six months leading to the policy change employees will be offered nicotine replacement therapies and smoking cessation classes. Patients will be able to buy nicotine patches and gum to help control their cravings.
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