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The Founding of TSET: A Revolution in Public Health

In 1996, Oklahoma’s Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Big Tobacco for predatory marketing and egregious efforts to normalize smoking. By 1998, 45 other states had filed similar lawsuits, and four of the largest tobacco companies agreed to negotiate a national settlement, the Master Settlement Agreement. As part of the Master Settlement Agreement, the tobacco industry was forced to end its efforts to target youth. Advertising, marketing and promotional activities were curtailed and the tobacco industry was banned from using cartoons, transit advertising and most forms of outdoor advertising to promote cigarettes. The Master Settlement Agreement also banned branded merchandise, free product samples (except in adult-only facilities) and most sponsorships by tobacco companies.

As part of the Master Settlement Agreement, states receive an annual payment from the tobacco industry as long as cigarettes are sold nationally. After bipartisan support for legislation to create a state question to amend the Oklahoma Constitution, voters in 2000 approved the creation of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, making Oklahoma the first state to protect its Master Settlement Agreement payments in a constitutional trust.

Seventy-five percent of each annual payment is deposited in the trust. Only the earnings are used each year, preserving the fund to provide grants and programs that improve health for generations to come. The remaining 25 percent of the annual payment is split between the Legislature, which receives 18.75% for its Tobacco Settlement Fund, and the Attorney General's office, which receives 6.25% for ongoing enforcement of Master Settlement Agreement provisions.

Each evidence-based initiative is designed to fight Oklahoma's two leading causes of preventable death - cancer and cardiovascular disease - by promoting healthy eating, physical activity and tobacco free lifestyles. 

Witness the extraordinary story of TSET.

Last Modified on Apr 25, 2022
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