OKLAHOMA CITY - Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust’s (or TSET) new initiative focuses on creating solutions and modernizing policies to improve the health of all Oklahomans, smokers and non-smokers alike.

“Today we announce that work begins on cutting Oklahoma's adult smoking rate in half in the next ten years,” Don Millican, TSET Board Chair, said.

As of this year, the smoking rate in Oklahoma has dropped to 20%, and youth smoking was cut in half.

TSET’s new initiative under its program, Tobacco Stops With Me, outlines the necessary steps Oklahoma should take to lower the adult smoking rate to 10% in the next decade.

“We do it through proven policy measures that we know work. And bring Oklahoma into the 21st century,” John Woods, TSET Executive Director, said.

They say in order to improve the health of all Oklahomans, these policy recommendations should be followed:

  • Prohibit smoking in cars with children present
  • Demand 100 percent clean indoor air
  • Raise the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products to 21
  • Put a ban on all menthols and flavored tobacco
  • Increase cigarette prices over the next decade
  • Strengthen enforcement against underage tobacco sales
  • Remove smokers as a protected class of employees

“Whether you use tobacco or not, it costs each Oklahoma household $815 in taxes each year for the addiction to tobacco nationwide,” Woods said.

TSET says these policies have been proven to reduce tobacco use and increase the overall health of people in states that have implemented them. They also announced that they’ll be investing millions of dollars in programs to educate young people on the hazards of tobacco use.