ATHENS, W.Va. — Concord University is taking steps to become a smoke-free and tobacco-free campus by Spring 2020.

The university recently announced it will receive a grant from CVS Health to advocate for, adopt, and implement 100 percent smoke and tobacco-free campus policies, including limiting the use of e-cigarettes.

“A big part of this money will be used to educate and create support for creating a 100 percent smoke-free and tobacco-free campus by April 2020,” Chris Smallwood, Director of Recreation & Wellness at Concord University told MetroNews.

Concord was one of the 82 schools in the country to be awarded a grant from CVS Health Foundation that totals a grant pool of $1.4 million.

Smallwood said the school has put together a Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative called “Let’s CU Quit,” and has a task force to meet the efforts of the university.

He said the task force includes professors, counselors, staff members and students on campus.

According to a release by Concord, the task force is developing a 100 percent smoke and tobacco-free policy for presentation to the President’s Cabinet and the Board of Governors, and implementing programs to increase awareness of and support for a tobacco-free campus by creating and disseminating educational materials including a website dedicated to cessation resources.

Concord has already held programs such as The Great American Smoke Out, 1-Day Stands, and Through with Chew Week to encourage more recreation and healthier living around campus.

Smallwood said healthy lifestyles are contagious for students.

“Students who participate in recreation and use our fitness center, studies show that when they go home they keep doing that,” he said. “Students join health clubs, they keep getting exercise. They pass that on to their kids too.”

According to Concord, conventional cigarette smoking among high school students has fallen by almost 50 percent since 2011, but e-cigarette use has surged over the last year as there are 2.8 million young adults aged 18-24 who are current e-cigarette users.

Smallwood said the university will try to enforce rules against e-cigarettes in this new policy as he feels it can be a gateway drug.

“High school students coming into college that have been vaping, there is some indication at this point that may encourage them to smoke cigarettes or at least try to experiment with them,” Smallwood said.

Several institutions around the state have a tobacco-free policy including WVU-Parkersburg and West Liberty University.

Bluefield State College, West Virginia Wesleyan College, Eastern West Virginia Community College, and Shepherd University were also among the schools in West Virginia to receive the grant.

To learn more about Concord’s initiative, click HERE.