CLEVELAND: A third major hospital system in Northeast Ohio has decided not to hire smokers.

The new policy begins June 1 at MetroHealth System. It mirrors a national trend to encourage healthier lifestyles, increase worker productivity and lower health-care costs.

The Plain Dealer reports that the hospital systemís 6,100 current employees are not affected by the new policy, but will be encouraged to take advantage of programs to quit smoking and become healthier.

The Cleveland Clinic implemented the same hiring policy in 2007 and University Hospitals last year.

Ohio is among 21 states where employers can legally refuse to hire tobacco users. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia passed laws prohibiting discrimination against people who use legal products such as tobacco. Some states allow exceptions for hospitals.