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TSET Encourages Oklahomans to Quit Tobacco, Take Action During Healthy Lung Month

Commonsense Policies Can Protect the Air We Share, Reduce Preventable Lung Diseases

OKLAHOMA CITY (Oct. 13, 2020) – October is National Healthy Lung Month and the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) encourages Oklahomans to breathe easy by quitting tobacco and working together to create more smoke- and vape-free places.

“To become a healthier state, we must take lung health seriously by protecting citizens with 100% smoke- and vape-free places and protecting children in vehicles from secondhand smoke,” said Julie Bisbee, TSET executive director. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report lung disease is the third leading cause of death in Oklahoma, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths each year. This is the second highest rate of lung disease deaths in the nation. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a progressive condition causing breathlessness, affects 8.3% of Oklahomans. Plus, 10.3% of adults and 13.2% of children live with asthma in the Sooner State.

In 2020, lung and bronchus cancer in Oklahoma is estimated to be the state’s highest new cancer case type at 3,200 cases. It is by far the leading cancer type for estimated deaths, according to the American Lung Association.

“We need to make sure that those who want to quit tobacco are aware of the free cessations services through the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline and the teen cessation services through My Life, My Quit,” Bisbee said. “People should also talk with their health care provider about quitting and access cessation benefits through their health insurance.

“Bottom line: in Oklahoma, we aren’t doing all we can through public policy measures to protect the adults and children in our state. We need to take the commonsense solutions that many surrounding states and cities are taking to reduce tobacco use and reduce exposure to toxic secondhand smoke. That is key to reducing painful and largely preventable conditions like lung cancer, COPD, asthma and other lung diseases that affect our citizens.”

In 2018, TSET’s Tobacco Stops With Me public education program released a 7-point-policy-plan, supported by more than 30 partners, that could cut Oklahoma’s smoking rate in half by 2028 if implemented. So far, one of the seven policies has been passed – raising the tobacco age to 21. There is still more to do and a clear plan that supports improved lung health in Oklahoma is needed.

Secondhand Smoke, Direct Impact

The most effective way to protect people from secondhand smoke is through 100% clean indoor air policies. Oklahoma and Tennessee are the only two states in the country that continue to allow citizens to be exposed to secondhand smoke – which contains toxic chemicals, including 70 known to cause cancer. In Oklahoma, exposure to secondhand smoke continues to be a serious health problem. It’s currently legal to smoke in Oklahoma hotels, bars and even in-home daycares when children aren’t present. Secondhand smoke puts employees at elevated risk of heart disease, respiratory diseases and countless other illnesses. At bars and clubs, where numerous people are smoking in the same enclosed area, these contaminants amplify, making for an even more toxic environment.

Protecting Our Youth

An overwhelming majority of Oklahomans (71%) agree that smoking should not be allowed in vehicles when children are present. In this region, Arkansas and Louisiana have enacted laws to protect children, yet Oklahoma kids are still left unprotected. Children are particularly vulnerable to secondhand smoke. Their bodies and lungs aren’t fully developed. Exposure to secondhand smoke leaves children at a greater risk for serious health issues, including: respiratory illness, ear infections, lung infections, asthma attacks, bronchitis and cancer.

COVID-19 and Quitting

While quitting is always beneficial, doing so during the pandemic could help one’s body stave off infection or serious complications. The CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) report that smoking and vaping increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Ready, Set, Quit

For Oklahomans ready to quit or looking for more information about quitting, the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline is available. The Helpline has provided FREE cessation services, including gum, patches and lozenges, to more than 450,000 Oklahomans since 2003. Through free services, resources, a supportive online community and more, the Helpline supports tobacco users during their quit journey and to stay quit. The recently redesigned Helpline website also provides tools for friends and family supporting a quitter, plus free materials for health care providers and guidance for employers seeking to create tobacco-free workplaces. To sign up, visit OKhelpline.com or call 1-800-QUIT NOW.

New Texting Support for Teens

In Oklahoma, 1 in 5 students use some form of tobacco. My Life, My Quit is an evidenced-based cessation program that offers free live text support, web chat and phone coaching designed specifically for teens 13-17 years old looking for help quitting tobacco. To sign up for services, teens can text “Start My Quit” to 855-891-9989 for real-time coaching or visit MyLifeMyQuit.com to enroll online. Registration and use of services are confidential, and nicotine replacement therapy is not provided.

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The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline is a free service for Oklahomans wanting to help themselves, loved ones, patients or employees live tobacco free. Funding is primarily provided by the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, 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 450,000 Oklahomans since 2003 and has been ranked among the top quitlines for reaching tobacco users seeking treatment for the last 10 years by the North American Quitline Consortium.

My Life, My Quit is a free program to help Oklahoma teens, ages 13-17, quit tobacco, including e-cigarettes. Offering tools most utilized by teens, free live texting, web chat and phone calls, My Life, My Quit supports teens through the steps of quitting tobacco to be able to live tobacco free. Funded by the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), these free services for Oklahoma teens are at MyLifeMyQuit.com or text “Start My Quit” to 855-891-9989.

Tobacco Stops With Me is a statewide campaign, funded through the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Trust, that provides an efficient, emotional and highly recognizable tobacco-free message for Oklahomans to rally around. By educating the public about the negative effects and impact of tobacco, the goal of Tobacco Stops With Me is to prevent and reduce tobacco use, and improve the health and quality of life of every Oklahoman. Tobacco Stops With Me aims to inspire individuals to make positive changes — not only for their own health, but for the health of the entire state as well.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working toward 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