MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) – In a few days, students will return to Wesleyan University and find a major change. Smoking and vaping will no longer be allowed on campus.

“Previously, it was 20 feet from a door, now they’re just not allowed on the grounds or green of campus,” September Johnson, Wesleyan University’s Alcohol and Other Drug Specialist.

Anyone, students, faculty, or staff who still wants to smoke or vape will have to go out the public sidewalks of Middletown. The hope is, however, that they will quit entirely. Johnson is offering to help.

“We are providing nicotine replacement therapy for those who are trying to get through a craving while on campus,” Johnson said. “We have quit kits. They’re able to meet with me. I’m a tobacco treatment specialist as well.”

This decision did not suddenly happen all at once. There have been committees talking about going tobacco-free for years. When the university came out of its COVID lockdown, that is when it really gained momentum, partly because of the COVID pandemic. We know that smokers are more vulnerable to infections in general. Respiratory infections like COVID especially.

“It kind of just jump-started that conversation again for us to make sure that we are promoting the health and wellness of everybody in our Wesleyan community, but also the overall community of Middletown, Connecticut in general,” Johnson said.

Wesleyan joins some 2,000 other universities in going tobacco-free. The University of New Haven and Yale made that switch more than six years ago. Quinnipiac did the same three years ago.

“We know it’s going to take time, and it’s an environmental change that we’re all working towards, and we’re excited to see it,” said Johnson. “We know that it’s going to benefit the health of our community now and for years to come.”

She says the majority of that community is all for it.