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TSET Board of Directors Responds to Unprecedented Need for Disaster Relief

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 3, 2013) -- The TSET Board of Directors on Monday voted to commit up to $1 million for disaster relief to address intermediate and long-term health needs in Oklahoma after a string of deadly tornadoes hit the state in May. 

The board and staff offer our heartfelt sympathies to those who have lost loved ones due to the extreme weather over the last few weeks. We have witnessed unprecedented damage and destruction,” said Casey Killblane, chair of the TSET Board of Directors. “Our mission is to improve the health of Oklahomans, and we know there will be ongoing needs as the families and communities pick up the pieces and move forward.”

TSET is a grant making state agency that funds the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline (1-800-QUIT-NOW), public education campaigns to improve health and grants to communities, statewide organizations, and research institutions. The TSET Board of Directors’ strategic plan focuses on reducing cancer and cardiovascular disease – the state’s leading causes of preventable death – by preventing tobacco use and obesity.

In the coming months we will look for ways to partner and leverage our funds to best meet the needs of communities and families in the aftermath of these tornadoes,” said Tracey Strader, TSET executive director.  “We believe in the Oklahoma standard and this action demonstrates the board’s commitment and desire to lend a hand during this difficult time.”

TSET operations and programs are funded by the earnings on investments of payments to the State of Oklahoma from the tobacco industry as part of 1998 Master Settlement Agreement. Oklahoma was one of 46 states to participate in the multi-state lawsuit. Voters in 2000 approved a constitutional amendment that created TSET and the endowment that ensures tobacco settlement funds are invested and only the earnings are used to fund programs that improve health.

Oklahoma will continue receiving payments as part of the Master Settlement Agreement in perpetuity.

TSET is governed by a bi-partisan board of members appointed by the Governor, Attorney General; State Superintendent of Public Instruction; State Auditor and Inspector; State Treasurer; Senate President Pro Tempore and the Speaker of the House. Board members serve seven-year terms.

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The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working toward shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working with local coalitions and initiatives across the state, by cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and by working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public’s health. TSET – Better Lives Through Better Health. For more information visit www.tset.ok.gov.