By Rebecca LaFlure

Killeen Daily Herald

Beginning Friday, patients and visitors will be required to put out their cigarettes before arriving at Metroplex Hospital in Killeen.

As of Jan. 1, the Metroplex Health System will ban all tobacco products on its campuses, including cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco.

"Because we are a health system … we wanted to make sure anyone who enters our campuses is living the healthiest lifestyle they can," Metroplex spokeswoman Desirae Franco said Monday.

Currently, Metroplex provides designated outdoor smoking areas for its patients and visitors. The hospital prohibited employees from smoking in June 2008.

The hospital's executive team last October voted in favor of the ban, which includes parking lots, Franco said. People caught smoking on the grounds will be issued a warning and escorted off the campus if they continue to light up.

Across the nation, strict smoking bans are being enforced in buildings and cities. The city of Killeen enacted a citywide smoking ban in June.

The ordinance, which the Killeen City Council passed 5-2, prohibits smoking in all public buildings except in stand-alone bars, pool halls, clubs, bingo halls and bowling alleys.

Scott & White Hospital in Temple became one of the first smoke-free hospitals in the state when it banned tobacco use on its campus in January 2005.

Dr. Jeana O'Brien, a pulmonary critical care physician at Scott & White, said the effort was brought forth by employees as a way to promote wellness. The hospital previously allowed smoking in designated outdoor areas.

Carl L. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood permits smoking in an outdoor gazebo and officials have not considered a smoking ban, spokeswoman Jeri Chappelle said Monday.

"We're not going to eliminate that anytime soon," she said.

Contact Rebecca LaFlure at or (254) 501-7548.

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