UPDATE: WVU campuses become tobacco and smoke free starting August 1

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MORGANTOWN, W. Va. (WDTV)-- UPDATE 8/01/19 @ 10 a.m.
West Virginia University's campuses will now be smoke and tobacco free starting Thursday.

The rule will prohibit tobacco products and smoking in any form, such as vaping and e-cigarettes on the campuses.

According to WVU, there will be a compliance officer monitoring the campus as students return in the fall. Students, faculty and staff will be able to report violations anonymously on a new website that will be able to help identify locations where the rule is frequently broken.

WVU says that they are planning to launch a Tobacco and Smoke Free Ambassador program with WellWVU, which is designed to create a greater awareness for the rule.

The WVU Board of Governors passed the tobacco and smoke-free policy in February.

The policy was passed unanimously.

UPDATE 2/8/2019
The WVU Board of Governors passed the smoke-free policy this morning, according to Rocco Fucillo, the chairman of the Tobacco-Free Task Force at WVU.

It will go into effect on August 1.

The policy was passed unanimously.

"I think that e-cigarettes ought to be treated like a cigarette," said Dr. Mark Olfert, an Associate Professor in Exercise Physiology at West Virginia University.

With high hopes of making WVU a smoke-free campus, the Board of Governors, and experts alike, are working hard to enforce a policy that'll promote a healthier lifestyle across the board.

"One of our major pillars is to promote health and wellness of everyone across the state including our staff, faculty and students here at WVU and our two other campuses, Beckley and Keyser," said Rocco Fucillo, the chairman of the Tobacco Free Task Force at WVU.

Experts say they don't exactly know the long-term effects of harm caused by vaping. However, through studies they've found that vapes do have several of the same risks to cardiovascular disease as do cigarettes.

"Any number of heart or vascular events, that we know a smoker has a greater risk for, is likely to be true for the person who's vaping as well," said Olfert.

Olfert says just vaping once, or for a week, won't give you a disease, but when people have other risk factors involved, such as obesity or alcohol consumption, vaping could become dangerous.

"If you're going to ask, what's safer, a cigarette or an e-cigarette, it's like asking is a machine gun safer than a hand gun," said Olfert.

Just recently, the policy was voted to be open for a public comment period. Throughout this time, over 100 comments came in.

Some concerns included how they would enforce a policy that hasn't been enforced well in the past.

"We want to make everyone accountable, we want to enhance everyone's health and we want to be about communications and awareness," said Fucillo.

"I think electronic cigarettes are just another form of smoking and the consequences that are going to come from that, while they might look different, are going to be just as devastating," said Olfert.

Experts also say even vapes that don't have nicotine are just as bad as cigarettes.

The new policy is up for a vote tomorrow morning.