Instead of fining smokers who break the new tobacco ban near the Medical University of South Carolina and Roper Hospital, campus security has been directed to offer vouchers for free nicotine replacement gum.

The ban was passed by the Charleston City Council in early January. It is effective today.

MUSC spokeswoman Heather Woolwine said that a $25 ticket will be used as a last resort.

Smoking already is banned at MUSC and Roper, but this new law extends the no-smoking perimeter around the hospitals to include several nearby city streets and sidewalks.

“It is our intention that we create as safe an environment as possible for our many ill, fragile or pregnant patients coming and going from campus daily,” Woolwine said in a statement.

Hospital security will enforce the new policy, which forbids any form of lit tobacco, including cigarettes, pipes and cigars.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.