TSET Board discusses new programs to benefit youth

  • Teen Helath

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust board of directors has approved new programs to promote health and wellness among Oklahoma’s youth.

Initial plans call for TSET to invest $2.5 million a year over five years in an educational program that will incorporate tobacco prevention, nutrition and physical activity. If approved in March by the board, a competitive request-for-proposals (RFPs) for the campaign will likely be released in April. The youth programs will incorporate tobacco prevention, nutrition and physical activity in a tiered approach starting with a statewide education campaign this fall. RFPs for youth advocacy and character-building programs are slated for release next January, and those programs would start in July 2021.

“Our daily habits are the single biggest influence on our long-term health, and when you learn about healthy habits and choices when you are young it’s much easier to stick with those habits your whole life,” said TSET board chairman Dr. Bruce Benjamin. The TSET governing board “is developing programs that will specifically target youth and help them develop the knowledge and habits they need for a lifetime of health and improved quality of life.”

The current vaping “epidemic” is reversing two decades of declines in teen tobacco use, TSET Executive Director Julie Bisbee said. “Increases in childhood obesity mean that our youngest generation will be the first generation to see a decrease in life expectancy. That’s unacceptable. The youngest Oklahomans deserve the opportunity to pursue healthy and prosperous lives, and these programs will focus on giving them the tools to do that.” Benjamin noted that the Oklahoma Constitution specifically placed programs benefiting children within TSET’s scope of work.