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TSET: 20 Years of Making a Difference

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The TSET Healthy Living Program awarded grant funding to build a community garden in Nowata. [PROVIDED]
The TSET Healthy Living Program awarded grant funding to build a community garden in Nowata. [PROVIDED]

In 2000, Oklahomans voted to support an ambitious initiative to improve the health of the state’s residents, lessen the toll of tobacco use and decrease preventable death. This past year marked the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), an endowment fueled by payments from a historic lawsuit settlement with Big Tobacco. 

Oklahoma was the first state in the nation to create an endowment that would safeguard a majority of Master Settlement Agreement payments for health. Using the endowment earnings, TSET funds grants and programs that invest in prevention and reduce the health behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death in Oklahoma.

For Oklahomans, tobacco use and obesity lead to four common deadly health outcomes: heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and cancer. Improved health behaviors — like increased physical activity, nutritious food and a tobacco-free lifestyle — along with increased access to medical care are key to improving the health outcomes in Oklahoma.  

“Prevention is where we can do the most good,” said TSET Executive Director Julie Bisbee. “Preventing chronic disease saves lives, improves wellbeing and is less costly than medical treatment. TSET’s investments made over the past two decades are paying off by helping save thousands of lives.”

“The Helpline opened up a new door. I couldn’t have done this by myself,” says Langston firefighter Shaun Pryor, former tobacco user and Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline advocate. [PROVIDED]
“The Helpline opened up a new door. I couldn’t have done this by myself,” says Langston firefighter Shaun Pryor, former tobacco user and Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline advocate. [PROVIDED]

Helping Smokers Quit

Despite challenges posed by a pandemic, TSET programs and grants continue to carry out TSET’s goal of reducing tobacco use through cost-effective tobacco use prevention and cessation programs. The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, a program of TSET, is one of the top quitlines in the country. The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline (1-800-QUIT NOW) continues to evolve in offering online and text services FREE to Oklahomans who want help quitting tobacco use. In 2020, the Helpline provided phone, web, text message and email support, and nicotine replacement therapy to 28,547 tobacco users from all 77 counties in Oklahoma.

TSET’s impact has had a transformative effect on the level of cancer research and care in Oklahoma. [PROVIDED]
TSET’s impact has had a transformative effect on the level of cancer research and care in Oklahoma. [PROVIDED]

Keeping Cancer Treatment Close to Home

Since 2008, TSET has been a partner in bringing cutting-edge cancer research and treatments to Oklahomans. TSET funds Phase 1 clinical trials at Stephenson Cancer Center allowing Oklahomans to receive the newest cancer treatments without traveling out of state. Clinical trials were crucial to Stephenson receiving National Cancer Institute designation, making it part of the NCI’s 71-member program. The Oklahoma TSET Phase I Program is currently ranked sixth in the nation in the number of annual enrollments to early-phase clinical trials. Patients from across the state can receive cancer treatment at Stephenson Cancer Center in Oklahoma City or at satellite facilities including locations in Chickasha and Lawton. 

“For TSET to come in and say, ‘we’re going to invest in your community, we’re going to bring the providers to you,’ I appreciate the wisdom they have. I think that is what life is about – if you see a need, fill it,” says Rebecca Good (left), patient of a PMTC sponsored physician at the Choctaw Nation Stigler Health Clinic. Dr. Valerie Robinson (right) is a participant in the Physician Loan Repayment Program, funded in part by TSET. [PROVIDED]
“For TSET to come in and say, ‘we’re going to invest in your community, we’re going to bring the providers to you,’ I appreciate the wisdom they have. I think that is what life is about – if you see a need, fill it,” says Rebecca Good (left), patient of a PMTC sponsored physician at the Choctaw Nation Stigler Health Clinic. Dr. Valerie Robinson (right) is a participant in the Physician Loan Repayment Program, funded in part by TSET. [PROVIDED]

Placing Doctors in Underserved Communities

TSET’s partnerships with medical and health organizations help bring new and innovative solutions to the healthcare challenges facing Oklahomans. Working with the Physician Manpower Training Commission, TSET helps fund the Physician Loan Repayment Program, which places doctors in underserved communities throughout Oklahoma. Currently, 38 physicians serve in the program that supports primary care access and preventative screenings. 

Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is an awardee of the TSET Food Systems Impact Grant. [PROVIDED]
Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is an awardee of the TSET Food Systems Impact Grant. [PROVIDED]

Addressing Food Insecurity

To increase access to nutritious food, TSET’S Board of Directors approved funding for new grants in May. Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, headquartered in Oklahoma City, received $96,544 to support their work to fight hunger. The Regional Food Bank is the state’s largest domestic hunger-relief nonprofit distributing food through a network of community-based partner agencies and schools. The Oklahoma Food Banks are part of the Feeding America network of 200 food banks in the United States.

“Food insecurity, already a problem in Oklahoma, has worsened since the coronavirus pandemic began. One in seven people and one in five children struggle with hunger in Oklahoma, according to Feeding America,” Bisbee said. “Increasing access to nutritious foods supports TSET’s efforts to increase access to healthy options.”

TSET celebrates the strides made by Oklahomans working to make our state healthier, yet there is still work to be done. As the state’s largest funder of behavioral health prevention, TSET will continue to invest in the areas of greatest need to address Oklahoma’s lead causes of preventable death. To learn more, visit TSET.OK.GOV.

This article is sponsored by the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET).


Related Photos
The TSET Healthy Living Program awarded grant funding to build a community garden in Nowata. [PROVIDED]

The TSET Healthy Living Program awarded grant funding to build a community garden in Nowata. [PROVIDED]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-9b7a6f56fedbc6d1b1e2684aadb54120.jpg" alt="Photo - The TSET Healthy Living Program awarded grant funding to build a community garden in Nowata. [PROVIDED]" title="The TSET Healthy Living Program awarded grant funding to build a community garden in Nowata. [PROVIDED]"><figcaption>The TSET Healthy Living Program awarded grant funding to build a community garden in Nowata. [PROVIDED]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c78804327b623c594d972e27e98629a4.jpg" alt="Photo - “For TSET to come in and say, ‘we’re going to invest in your community, we’re going to bring the providers to you,’ I appreciate the wisdom they have. I think that is what life is about – if you see a need, fill it,” says Rebecca Good (left), patient of a PMTC sponsored physician at the Choctaw Nation Stigler Health Clinic. Dr. Valerie Robinson (right) is a participant in the Physician Loan Repayment Program, funded in part by TSET. [PROVIDED]" title="“For TSET to come in and say, ‘we’re going to invest in your community, we’re going to bring the providers to you,’ I appreciate the wisdom they have. I think that is what life is about – if you see a need, fill it,” says Rebecca Good (left), patient of a PMTC sponsored physician at the Choctaw Nation Stigler Health Clinic. Dr. Valerie Robinson (right) is a participant in the Physician Loan Repayment Program, funded in part by TSET. [PROVIDED]"><figcaption>“For TSET to come in and say, ‘we’re going to invest in your community, we’re going to bring the providers to you,’ I appreciate the wisdom they have. I think that is what life is about – if you see a need, fill it,” says Rebecca Good (left), patient of a PMTC sponsored physician at the Choctaw Nation Stigler Health Clinic. Dr. Valerie Robinson (right) is a participant in the Physician Loan Repayment Program, funded in part by TSET. [PROVIDED]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-28f3c85fee0b258f593865adf234757e.jpg" alt="Photo - Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is an awardee of the TSET Food Systems Impact Grant. [PROVIDED]" title="Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is an awardee of the TSET Food Systems Impact Grant. [PROVIDED]"><figcaption>Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is an awardee of the TSET Food Systems Impact Grant. [PROVIDED]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d00d78b00085fc44169864c3c0e33ad8.jpg" alt="Photo - “The Helpline opened up a new door. I couldn’t have done this by myself,” says Langston firefighter Shaun Pryor, former tobacco user and Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline advocate. [PROVIDED]" title="“The Helpline opened up a new door. I couldn’t have done this by myself,” says Langston firefighter Shaun Pryor, former tobacco user and Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline advocate. [PROVIDED]"><figcaption>“The Helpline opened up a new door. I couldn’t have done this by myself,” says Langston firefighter Shaun Pryor, former tobacco user and Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline advocate. [PROVIDED]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-b17cf3b21eadf2d04ec9b3363b2332f2.jpg" alt="Photo - TSET’s impact has had a transformative effect on the level of cancer research and care in Oklahoma. [PROVIDED]" title="TSET’s impact has had a transformative effect on the level of cancer research and care in Oklahoma. [PROVIDED]"><figcaption>TSET’s impact has had a transformative effect on the level of cancer research and care in Oklahoma. [PROVIDED]</figcaption></figure>
Eddie Roach

Eddie Roach is a contributing writer for BrandInsight, The Oklahoman's sponsored content product. Semi-retired, he creates content and writes blogs for a variety of clients after a 40-year career in various print and online communications roles,... Read more ›

Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET)

The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) works to reduce tobacco use and obesity, the two leading causes of preventable death in Oklahoma. In addition to statewide and community grants, TSET funds a variety of public health education programs including the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, Tobacco Stops With Me and Shape Your Future to help inform Oklahomans about healthy choices in an effort to prevent and reduce cancer and cardiovascular disease. TSET was created by voters who passed an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution in 2000 to set aside a portion of the lawsuit settlement payments from the national Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement to fund grants and programs to reduce the toll of tobacco and improve health in Oklahoma. TSET does not receive tobacco tax dollars and is funded by earnings from an endowment that is invested by an appointed board. An appointed Board of Directors oversee the expenditures of the annual earnings. Since TSET began funding a comprehensive program to prevent and reduce tobacco use, 42,280 lives and $1.24 billion in tobacco-related medical costs have been saved in Oklahoma. Learn more at tset.ok.gov. Read more ›

NewsOK BrandInsight provides a place for local organizations and companies to connect directly with the NewsOK audience by publishing articles of interest on the NewsOK digital platforms in a special section.
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