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TSET Prepares for Increased Demands to the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline Due to Cigarette and Little Cigar Price Increases

Budget includes flexibility to increase free services to help Oklahomans quit

OKLAHOMA CITY – May 22, 2018 – The TSET Board of Directors on Tuesday approved a budget for the 2019 fiscal year that sets aside additional funds for the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline to meet anticipated increases in demands for the free cessation services offered by the Helpline.

The additional funds is in advance of a $1 price increase on a pack of cigarettes and little cigars. The price increase takes effect July 1. The price increase is estimated to keep 17,300 Oklahomans under 18 from becoming daily smokers, and encourage 18,700 Oklahomans to quit smoking.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, a program of TSET, offers free assistance to Oklahomans who want to quit tobacco, including text and email support, phone and web coaching and a two-week supply of patches, gum or lozenges for registered participants. The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline’s resources are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“Increasing the price of cigarettes and little cigars is a policy that will save lives, reduce the burden of tobacco on our state and help Oklahomans improve their health,” said TSET Executive Director John Woods. “While this will impact TSET’s budget in the upcoming fiscal year, we are prepared to meet the need and help Oklahomans live longer, healthier lives.”

Significant increases in the prices of cigarettes and little cigars is a proven way to reduce tobacco use, especially among young people who are sensitive to price increases. The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline saw an increase in calls when previous price increases took effect in 2004 and 2009, Helpline data shows.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline has served more than 365,000 callers since the program began in 2003. Helpline callers who register for multiple calls have a 36 percent quit rate at seven months, compared to a 5 percent quit rate among smokers who quit cold turkey. Ninety-four percent of Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline callers were satisfied with Helpline services, according to a 2017 evaluation of the program.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline also works with health care providers to increase referrals to the Helpline. In 2017, more than 13,700 Oklahomans were referred to the Helpline from health professionals and health systems. The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline also serves SoonerCare members and offers an increased benefit to Oklahomans insured by SoonerCare. More than 15 percent of Medicaid expenditures in Oklahoma are smoking-related.

The Helpline’s free customizable services include three plans: All Access, Web Coach and Individual Services. These innovative tools and customizable options provide flexibility for Oklahomans searching for a quit plan that fits their lifestyle. 

The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline is not just for those who are ready to quit. For those thinking of quitting tobacco, the Helpline offers information and resources to prepare Oklahomans for the next step. Additionally, tobacco users are encouraged to take the Helpline’s Readiness Quiz to assess their attitudes, beliefs and emotions regarding the quitting process.  

Call 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit OKhelpline.com to learn more. Connect with the Helpline through social media by liking the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline on Facebook or following @OKhelpline on Twitter and Instagram.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information, contact:
Julie Bisbee, Director of Public Information and Outreach
julieb@tset.ok.gov
(405) 521-4992 (office)
(405) 301-3693 (cell)

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The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline is a free service for Oklahomans who want to quit tobacco. Funding is primarily provided by the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), in partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma Health Care Authority, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline has served more than 365,000 Oklahomans since 2003 and has been ranked among the top quitlines for reaching tobacco users seeking treatment for the last ten years by the North American Quitline Consortium.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working with local coalitions and initiatives across the state, cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public’s health. TSET – Better Lives Through Better Health. To learn more go to: tset.ok.gov.