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External Evaluation of TSET Efforts Show Programs Significantly Impact Positive Health Behaviors

Oklahoma City, OK (March 29, 2016) – An evaluation of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust’s community-based grants and public health education programs show measurable progress in changing the health behaviors of Oklahomans. These programs work to prevent and reduce tobacco use, educate on the dangers of secondhand smoke and encourage Oklahomans to eat better, move more and be tobacco free.

TSET, a voter created endowment that invests its portion of the payments from the Master Settlement Agreement, uses investment earnings to fund grants and programs to improve the health of all Oklahomans. TSET’s Board of Directors, consisting of seven members appointed by key elected officials, fund grants and programs that work to reduce the leading causes of death in Oklahoma – cancer and cardiovascular disease – by attacking the root cause of those diseases, tobacco use and obesity.

During a meeting of the TSET Board of Director’s last week, three researchers from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, College of Public Health, and the Oklahoma State University Department of Nutrition Sciences presented evaluation findings that show measurable improvement in reducing adult smoking, increasing tobacco-free policies at the local level, and increased healthy behaviors after being exposed to evidence-based public health media campaigns and community grants.

The evaluations showed:

  • Counties with a Communities of Excellence Grant in Tobacco Control had higher proportion of smokers making quit attempts; higher awareness of the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline (1-800-QUIT-NOW); more smokers didn't allow smoking in their homes.
  • Counties with a Communities of Excellence Grant in Physical Activity and Nutrition showed increases in awareness about obesity and its health effects; increases in the number of businesses, schools and workplaces with healthier food and drink policies and opportunities for physical activity.
  • Public health media campaigns are prompting Oklahomans to make positive health choices; 40 percent of registrants to the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline reported that they heard about the service through the media campaign; more Oklahomans reported exercising four or more times per week and filling half their plates with fruits and vegetables, goals of the Shape Your Future campaign.

The evaluation results of the three programs confirm that these combined efforts are significantly contributing to a downward trend in smoking and improved health behaviors in Oklahoma.

“These results are encouraging, and show that TSET’s commitment to evidence-based, effective programs is paying off,” said Jim Gebhart, chairman of the TSET Board of Directors. “These data show that our strategic program investments are truly having an impact. TSET’s programs are evidence based, funded for results and our external evaluations confirm that. These outcomes are also informing the national evidence base in preventing and reducing tobacco use and obesity.”

TSET-funded prevention programs follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program and other research to ensure that the programs are following the best science available.  Based on proven results, such research recommends a comprehensive approach toward improving health that includes community-based, organizational policies that reinforce healthy behaviors, and health communications messaging that promote behavior change.

During the twelve year period that TSET has been funding the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, public education media campaigns and community-based grants, the rate of smoking among adults decreased from 28.7 percent in 2001 to 21.1 percent in 2014 – a 27 percent reduction, according to data collected in the annual Behavioral Risk Surveillance Survey. Smoking among high school students decreased from 33 percent in 1999 to 15 percent in 2013 – a decrease of 55 percent, according to the Youth Tobacco Survey.

An evaluation of TSET’s long-running Communities of Excellence in Tobacco Control grant program found that counties with a grant had a statistically significant increase in the proportion of smokers making a quit attempt, increased awareness of the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline and higher numbers of smokefree home policies among smokers.

The Communities of Excellence in Physical Activity and Nutrition program operated from 2011 to 2015 in effort to help local communities prevent and reduce obesity by promoting healthy nutrition and physical activity. Initial assessments in the program revealed county residents did not feel prepared to change food and physical activity behaviors due to inconsistent availability of fruits and vegetables. Rural areas had considerable challenges in providing safe places for physical activity.

Evaluation results found that as a result of grantee efforts, there was a marked increase in knowledge and awareness about obesity and its health effects, and a 59 percent increase in the number of nutrition policies in schools, worksites, after-school programs and communities. The evaluation showed there was also a 45 percent increase in physical activity policies which promote daily activity incorporated into daily life. Improved nutrition and physical activity policies are first steps toward increasing accessibility of healthy affordable foods and incorporating physical activity into daily life. These efforts are in line with the Institute of Medicine’s recommended strategies to reduce obesity across multiple sectors of society

A final presentation highlighted the accomplishments of three public education campaigns supported by TSET that work together to produce improved health behavior results. The evaluation found 71 percent of survey respondents were aware of the Tobacco Stops With Me campaign. Oklahoma smokers exposed to the campaign were twice as likely to make a quit attempt, and seeing or hearing ads for the campaign motivated non-smokers to help smokers quit, by using evidence-based treatments. Additionally, Oklahomans exposed to the campaign showed support for smokefree bars in Oklahoma has increased from 24 percent in 2008 to 55 percent in 2015.

The FY2015 evaluation of the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline public health education campaign, which surveyed smokers and people living with smokers, found that the campaign was effective in reaching the target audience, with 91 percent of those surveyed saying they had seen or heard ads for the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline. Forty percent of Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline registrants reported contacting the Helpline due to the campaign. The majority of respondents also said they approved of the attention grabbing messages that make a strong argument for quitting smoking.

The Shape Your Future campaign aims to encourage Oklahomans to eat better, move more and be tobacco free. Evaluation results from the campaign showed an increase in awareness from 8.8 percent in 2013 to 22.9 percent of respondents who had seen or heard ads for the campaign. The report also showed increases in respondents who recognized that they should fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables, an increase in respondents who made sure their family members were filling their plates with fruits and vegetables, and a 21 percent increase in the number of Oklahomans who reported exercising four or more times per week.

Copies of the evaluation presentations are available upon request.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                
Julie Bisbee,
Direct: 405-521-4992
Cell: 405-301-3693


The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working towards shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working across the state, by cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and by 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.