OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust 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. In part to the work of TSET grantees at the local level, more than 80 percent 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.

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 to get involved locally, or other TSET investments in the health of Oklahomans can be found at http://tset.ok.gov.

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