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Frequently Asked Questions about TSET

What is TSET?
Created by voters in 2000, TSET is an endowment trust established with payments from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between 46 states and the tobacco industry.

TSET works to reduce Oklahoma’s leading causes of preventable death – tobacco use and obesity – in order to prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. TSET makes grants in prevention, research and emerging opportunities to improve the health of every Oklahoman. 

Is TSET a state agency?
TSET is a state organization, however, it is self-sustaining as only the endowment’s investment earnings are used to fund grants and programs. TSET is not funded through tax dollars or an appropriation from the Legislature.

How is TSET funded?
Payments from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between 46 states and the tobacco industry are received annually. Seventy-five percent of each payment is allocated to the TSET endowment for investment. The remaining 25% is available to the Legislature for appropriation. By statute, the legislature allocates a portion of its share of the payment to the Attorney General’s Office, which is responsible for ongoing enforcement and compliance with the MSA.

A constitutionally established Board of Investors, headed by the State Treasurer, invests the endowment funds, and certifies only the earnings for grants and programs funded by the TSET board of directors. This approach, often used for perpetual funding like scholarships, ensures that the money is protected from short-term fluctuation and is available for long-term use. See the current Board of Investors.

Who decides how the money is spent?
A seven-member Board of Directors directs the fund’s earnings toward various programs as part of a strategic plan. Members serve staggered terms of office and are appointed by seven key elected officials, the Governor, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Attorney General, State Treasurer, State Auditor and Inspector, and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

As established by the Constitutional amendment that created TSET, the Board is composed of members from each of the state’s congressional districts, with no more than two members coming from any one district. In addition, no more than four appointees may belong any one political party. See the current Board of Directors.

How can I apply for a grant?
Proposals are accepted year round for the TSET Healthy Schools and Healthy Communities incentive grant program.  At various times, TSET solicits requests for proposals for specific grant programs. To learn more, or to get on the list to be informed about open solicitations, visit our Funding Opportunities page.

What are TSET funds spent on?
TSET funds support evidence-based and innovative programs that address tobacco use, physical activity and nutrition, research and emerging opportunities to improve health. View more information on TSET’s current grants here.

How much of the money is spent on health?
Nearly 90% of TSET’s budget is spent on grants and programs for public health. Administration – which includes employee salaries and operating costs – makes up only 3% of the agency’s budget. The remaining 7 percent funds evaluation, technical assistance, and training for grantees.

Is what TSET is doing working?
TSET grants are having a positive impact on our state’s public health, despite the immense challenges we face. Youth smoking has been cut in half, and adult smoking is at an all-time low. Oklahomans from across the state have access to life-saving cancer treatments, and rural areas have greater access to health care thanks to multiple programs funded by TSET that work to bring physicians to medically underserved areas. TSET’s grants and programs reach every corner of the state and impact all Oklahomans.

TSET’s grantmaking strategy is evidence-based and proven to be successful through rigorous external evaluation. The public’s health remains an ongoing and long-term issue, but TSET continues to work toward a healthier state.

Who leads TSET?
TSET is currently led by an executive director, Tracey Strader. Strader has nearly 30 years experience in the design, implementation and evaluation of public health and tobacco control programs. As Strader reached retirement eligibility, TSET began the transition to a new leader for the trust.

The TSET Board of Directors hired a search firm to identify potential candidates for the new leadership position, which would reflect TSET’s growth in its title of Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Former Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas accepted the position, but chose to step back so the TSET Board could reassess the position.

The announced retirement of longtime executive director of TSET presented an opportunity for the Board of Directors to evaluate the duties and responsibilities of the top management position moving forward. As the endowment has grown, the management responsibilities have expanded. Our Board will carefully assess over the next several months, the requirements and qualifications of the position. As our Board looks ahead, they will seek a person who not only can capably handle the many management duties, but also shares a sincere desire to continue supporting efforts and organizations across the state that are on the frontline of helping Oklahomans become stronger by helping Oklahomans become healthier.

Why is TSET transitioning to a CEO?
Since its founding, TSET’s operating budget has grown from $500,000 to nearly $48 million dollars. When current Executive Director Tracey Strader announced her plans to retire, the TSET Board of Directors chose to reorganize the position to bring in a CEO who would provide additional skills to manage the organization during this period of growth.

What’s next for TSET’s leadership?
The TSET Board of Directors is currently reassessing the CEO position to ensure that it is fully aligned with TSET’s mission of building a better and healthier Oklahoma.

RESOURCES
Annual Reports
Audit Reports
TSET Performance Dashboard
TSET Strategic Plan
TSET Board Overview