Bisbee: A commitment to health care initiatives The Journal Record – Journal Record

Julie Bisbee

This month marks the 20th anniversary of voters creation of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, a grant-making state agency devoted to preventing cancer and cardiovascular disease, Oklahomas leading causes of death. Past accomplishments and new initiatives give Oklahomans reason to be proud of TSET.

In 1998, 46 states including Oklahoma reached the Master Settlement Agreement with Big Tobacco, resolving a lawsuit over the tobacco industrys practice of lying to the public about smoking dangers. In 2000, voters approved a constitutional amendment that safeguarded the bulk of the MSA payments in an endowment. Endowment investment earnings fund grants and programs to improve health.

On Nov. 3, voters affirmed the wisdom of TSETs structure, with each of Oklahomas 77 counties rejecting a state question that sought to reduce the contribution to the TSET endowment. This vote upholds the voter-created structure that funds tobacco use cessation and prevention, cancer research, community-based programs and other initiatives that improve quality of life.

Since 2000, TSETs funding of cancer research has given Oklahomans access to cutting-edge cancer treatment. TSETs funding of Phase 1 clinical trials helped the Stephenson Cancer Center achieve the prestigious National Cancer Institute designation.

To date, TSET has funded not only the Stephenson Cancer Center but also the TSET Health Promotion Research Center and the Oklahoma Center for Adult Stem Cell Research. For every dollar TSET has invested, research institutions have attracted an additional $3 in outside funding.

TSET also addresses physician shortages. This year, TSETs partnership with the Physician Manpower Training Commission filled all 42 slots in its loan repayment program, which helps pay off medical school loans when doctors agree to practice in rural and underserved areas.

TSETs Healthy Living Program is another success. Now in its second five-year grant cycle, the program works at the local level to improve health and make it easy for people to make healthy choices.

Policies help shape the environment. Tobacco-free policies protect the public from toxic secondhand smoke and encourage tobacco users to quit. Thanks to 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 e-cigarette use.

TSET remains committed to preventing cancer and cardiovascular disease. Visit tset.ok.gov.

Julie Bisbee is executive director of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, a voter-created grant-making trust devoted to preventing cancer and cardiovascular disease, Oklahomas leading causes of death.

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Bisbee: A commitment to health care initiatives The Journal Record - Journal Record

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