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TSET Board of Directors Awards Community-Based Grants to Serve 63 Counties Under the New TSET Healthy Living Grant Program

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 15, 2015) - The TSET Board of Directors on Friday approved the award of $14 million for 50 community based grants to serve 63 counties statewide as part of the TSET Healthy Living grant program.

The 5-year grant program seeks to prevent and reduce tobacco use and obesity by working with businesses, cities and governments, schools, and community institutions and organizations, to help make the healthy choice the easy choice. Work on the TSET Healthy Living grant program will begin July 1. For a full list of grantees funded, click here.

The new grant program will encourage Oklahomans to eat better, move more, and be tobacco free, where they live, work, learn and play. The TSET Healthy Living grant program builds on lessons learned through a decade of community-based grants across the state, and integrates tobacco and obesity prevention in a more holistic approach to promoting wellness.

This new initiative has been designed with the input from current and former TSET grantees, partner organizations, and nationally recognized experts, and will replace TSET’s long-running Communities of Excellence grants, which currently serve 51 counties, 1 tribal nation, or over 85 percent of the state’s population.

“The TSET Healthy Living grant program will continue to emphasize health in all corners of our state,” said TSET Board Chairman Jim Gebhart. “We look forward to working with a variety of organizations that are dedicated to creating opportunities and resources to promote better health among Oklahomans.”

 “We have seen great progress with the Communities of Excellence grant program over the past decade as coalitions of passionate individuals and organizations have been working together to make a difference for the youth and future generations of Oklahomans ,” said Tracey Strader, TSET Executive Director. “As a result of these efforts at the local and state levels, youth smoking has nearly been cut in half; adult smoking is at an all-time low and obesity in our state has leveled off. There is no more important goal than saving lives and helping Oklahoma become a healthier and more prosperous state.”

This new grant initiative is launched as TSET celebrates the 15th anniversary of the approval of the state question that created the endowment trust in 2000.

Funded by a portion of the tobacco industry’s payment to the state as part of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, the endowment trust is a long term strategy to improve health. The funds are placed in an endowment to ensure a growing funding source for generations to come. Only the earnings from the endowment are used to fund grants and programs.

Each year, the tobacco industry makes a settlement payment to Oklahoma and 45 other states as part of the national Master Settlement Agreement. Settlement payments will continue as long as cigarettes are sold nationally. Court documents obtained during state lawsuits against the industry show that tobacco companies specifically marketed their product to youth under 18, in hopes of getting “replacement smokers.”

In more recent years, a federal judge found the tobacco companies guilty of racketeering under the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, including lying about the health damage caused by smoking; the addictive nature of nicotine; their marketing and promotion of “low tar” and “light” cigarettes as healthier when there are no clear health benefits; designing tobacco products to be as addictive as possible; and engaging in a massive effort to hide the dangers of secondhand smoke.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Julie Bisbee, julieb@tset.ok.gov
Direct: 405-521-4992
Cell: 405-301-3693

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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 with local coalitions and initiatives 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. To learn more, go to www.tset.ok.gov.
TSET. Better Lives Through Better Health.