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TSET Healthy Living Program Investments in Communities Generate Significant Health Benefits for Oklahomans

TSET Healthy Living Program Grants spanned 62 counties and impacted lives of 2.4 million Oklahomans.

OKLAHOMA CITY (Nov. 17, 2020) – The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) is achieving milestones in health through its tobacco prevention and wellness initiatives. A recent report showed that its five-year Healthy Living Program initiative invested in 47 community groups partnering with more than 2,000 local organizations, schools, businesses and municipal governments throughout Oklahoma.

TSET Healthy Living Grants worked in 62 counties while creating a lasting legacy of health for more than 2.4 million Oklahomans. Overall, funded community grants achieved the adoption of 1,238 tobacco-free policies affecting more than 1.5 million Oklahomans, and 1,047 wellness policies impacting more than 1 million adults and youth combined.

“Local health advocates working in local communities can drive change toward health,” said Julie Bisbee, executive director of TSET. “Community initiatives build support for improved health and we’re seeing major building blocks of health come together across Oklahoma. Reducing chronic conditions, reducing preventable death and improving quality of life benefits all Oklahomans and our state’s overall economy.”

Policies help shape the environment. Tobacco-free policies protect the public from toxic secondhand smoke and encourage tobacco users to quit. Thanks to the work of TSET grantees at the local level more than 80% of school districts had adopted a tobacco-free policy before state law was enacted to protect all Oklahoma children from tobacco and electronic cigarette use.

Arianna Derr, executive director of the Mayes County HOPE Coalition, said TSET’s support for programs and initiatives in Mayes County have far-reaching impacts.

“Not only has TSET granted our communities funds, but as importantly, they have provided our staff and citizens with training on how to create partners and educate our residents in areas of healthy living. TSET’s investment of time and money has greatly impacted our communities and citizens,” Derr said. 

In addition to helping organizations adopt health promoting policies, the TSET Healthy Living Program grants also worked with municipal city governments to change the built environment, including 54 Safe Routes to School resolutions, 42 Wayfinding projects, 113 Open Streets projects, 48 Complete Streets resolutions, 82 Safe Street improvements, 41 Safe Street simulations and three Shared Use policies.

TSET Healthy Living grants also worked with retailers to increase access to healthy foods including 40 Healthy Retail resolutions, 169 Community Gardens implemented or improved, 46 Farmers Markets, and 256 retailers improving the quality of their food and beverage choices for their customers.

In many cases, the work of TSET Healthy Living Grants brought other financial and in-kind partners to the table resulting in funds matching the local TSET investment in amounts of a 3-1 ratio or 4-1 ratio or more.

TSET’s most recent Healthy Living Program community initiative spanned 2015-2020, yet builds off the foundations created from TSET’s original Communities of Excellence program – an effort supporting community-driven change across Oklahoma since 2004. TSET’s work continues with a new set of TSET Healthy Living Program grants that began in July 2020 and will continue for the next five years.

More information about the successes of the TSET Healthy Living Program, how you can get involved locally or other TSET investments in the health of Oklahomans can be found at http://tset.ok.gov.

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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. Investing $45 million in prevention and research in Oklahoma each year, TSET has been a driving force in the decade-long decline in tobacco use in the state. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working across Oklahoma, 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, visit www.tset.ok.gov.