Oklahoma’s TSET is a national model for how states should safeguard Master Settlement Agreement dollars, and the progress is impressive. Our state was the first to create a constitutionally protected trust for health.
As we celebrate the accomplishments of the past, I’m proud to be a part of TSET’s future and its continued commitment to creating a healthier future for Oklahoma.
Our mission is very simple – to reduce the number of preventable deaths from cancer and cardiovascular disease by preventing and reducing tobacco use and obesity. Our mission not only saves lives, but produces healthy outcomes and cost savings for our state through education, intervention and research.
As the new executive director of TSET, I am surrounded by staff, grantees and partners who are committed to helping Oklahomans improve their health, and who believe that together, we can create a healthier state for future generations.
In my own life, I know small changes can make a big difference. When I decided to quit smoking several years ago, I used the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline. With the help of a quit coach, I was able to stop using tobacco for good. By quitting tobacco, I added years to my life and ensured that I will see those milestones in my children’s lives. I have a wife, two daughters, one of whom is 4 months old, and a step-son to thank for the motivation to stop smoking, and I have the Helpline to thank for the support and tools I needed to quit.
I know my path is not unusual in Oklahoma, where nearly one in four adults smoke and a third of Oklahomans are overweight or obese. While adult smoking rates are at all-time lows in the state and the obesity rates are not climbing as fast as they once were, our state is still well above the national average. But we are making progress. Smoking among middle school and high school students has drastically declined since TSET’s work began in 2002. That’s a generation of young people who will grow up to fuel the businesses and communities across the state without an addiction that costs lives and money.
TSET’s work ensures that there are environments that support healthy lifestyles and healthy choices, and that research is being done in our state to treat and cure cancer and support regenerative medicine, and, that grant funding is available to recruit, train and retain physicians in rural and underserved areas of Oklahoma.
As a lifelong Oklahoman, I have spent my career working on state and national level policy efforts to enhance the lives of Oklahomans. In my role as the executive director at TSET, my focus will be on improving Oklahoma’s health outcomes to move Oklahoma forward.
Tracey Strader has been an exemplary leader for the agency and has helped put in place programs that have made a real difference in people’s lives and in the health of our state overall. Tracey created the groundwork that has given TSET its direction for a healthier future, and we are all indebted to her for her service to this state.
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