OKLAHOMA CITY (Nov. 13, 2014) – To commemorate the upcoming 15th anniversary of the voter-creation of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, the TSET Board of Directors on Thursday held a brief ceremony highlighting the release of a documentary film screening of the organization’s history.
After the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between the tobacco industry and 46 states, Oklahoma was the first state to establish a constitutionally protected trust fund to ensure that the majority of the settlement payments would be invested to generate earnings that would be used to improve health.
Created by voters in 2000, TSET is an endowment trust that makes grants to improve health in Oklahoma. Settlement funds are invested by a Board of Investors, and only the earnings from those investments are used by a Board of Directors to support efforts to improve health. TSET grants and programs primarily seek to reduce the leading causes of death in Oklahoma – cancer and cardiovascular disease by preventing and reducing tobacco use and obesity.
“We are kicking off a year-long celebration of the creation of TSET by Oklahoma voters,” said Tracey Strader, TSET Executive Director. “TSET was born out of the vision of Oklahoma leaders and voters who were willing to invest in a long-term solution to improving Oklahoma’s health status, without regard to partisan politics. As a result the endowment trust fund will generate revenue to support health improvements for generations to come.”
TSET began its work with the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline (1-800-QUIT-NOW), which offers Oklahomans access to individualized coaching and nicotine replacement therapies - gum, lozenges and patches - to help tobacco users quit. Community grants were funded shortly thereafter, and eventually the board of directors made program investments in cutting-edge cancer research and treatment.
The 27-minute documentary film, to air on OETA statewide January 15, highlights the work of state leaders who created the vision of TSET and the language for the state question. The film also spotlights how the board of directors has put the endowment’s earnings to use across the state to improve health.
“Our vision for the future is to continue to make strides in tobacco prevention, expand our work in prevention and research, and achieve significant improvements in Oklahoma’s health status,” said Jim Gebhart, chair of the TSET Board of Directors. “That’s what voters approved in 2000 when they passed this measure. Our film is an effort to give a report to the people of how Oklahoma has kept the promise and invested in health.”
Milestones achieved since TSET began funding grants and programs to improve health include:
- More former smokers than smokers in Oklahoma
- Youth and middle school smoking nearly cut in half
- Smokefree laws that make most restaurants smokefree
- 100 million fewer cigarettes sold annually due to increase in the tobacco tax
- More than 1,000 tobacco-free policies approved in communities, businesses and schools
- World class researchers at the Stephenson Cancer Center, Oklahoma Center for Adult Stem Cell Research and the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center
- More than 275,000 Oklahomans have used the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline since it began in 2003
- Public education campaigns, like Tobacco Stops With Me and Shape Your Future, are supporting positive changes in attitudes, knowledge and behaviors of Oklahomans towards quitting tobacco, eating better, moving more and being tobacco free
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Julie Bisbee, firstname.lastname@example.org
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. TSET. Better Lives Through Better Health. To learn more go to tset.ok.gov.