ELKINS, W.Va. – Davis and Elkins College has announced on Thursday that it has joined 2,065 colleges and universities nationwide to implement a smoke-free and tobacco-free environment to provide a healthier atmosphere for students, faculty and staff.

The release from the college stated that this policy covers all college-owned properties, including outdoor spaces and vehicles.

College officials said this regulation prohibits smoking of cigarettes, cigars and pipes, as well as the use of electronic or vaping devices and smokeless tobacco products.

“Davis & Elkins College views the safety and health of our students, faculty, staff and visitors to be of the utmost importance and we believe that this change to a smoke-free and tobacco-free campus will benefit all who come to our campus,” said D&E Vice President for Student Affairs Scott Goddard. “This initiative takes on even greater significance as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.”

The release stated that according to the CDC, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the United States. Secondhand smoke exposure contributes to approximately 41,00 deaths among nonsmoking adults and 400 deaths in infants each year, the release stated. Additionally, the most recent findings from the CDC state that being a current or former cigarette smoker may increase a person’s risk of severe illness from COVID-19, according to the release.

“Do you really want to be walking through someone’s smoke, either tobacco or vape that came from deep in their lungs? That’s a little scary, especially as of today,” said Goddard.

The release stated that Davis & Elkins joins fellow institutions in West Virginia that have adopted smoke-free and/or tobacco-free polices including all campuses across the West Virginia University system, Fairmont State University, Marshall University, Shepherd University, West Virginia Wesleyan College and West Liberty University.

Randolph County Schools and Davis Health System also have polices to provide a tobacco and/or smoke-free environment.

Visitors to the Davis & Elkins campus are also required to adhere to this policy, according to the release.