Q: What is TSET?
A: Established overwhelmingly by voters in 2000, the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) is a state grantmaking trust devoted to preventing cancer and cardiovascular disease, Oklahoma's leading causes of death. As part of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), states receive an annual payment from the tobacco industry. Seventy-five percent of each annual payment is deposited in the trust. The remaining 25% 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. Only the earnings are used to fund grants and programs to improve health.
Q: Who benefits from TSET?
A: All Oklahomans, because TSET is more than tobacco. From one of the nation’s top tobacco quitlines to its mission to increase rural access to preventative care with a grant to attract and retain doctors in rural Oklahoma, TSET has worked to improve the health of Oklahomans for 20 years. TSET’s work has saved more than 42,000 lives, and because of TSET’s sustained investment in tobacco prevention and cessation, smoking rates from 2006-14 dropped 10 times faster in Oklahoma than in states with a similar policy and price environment.
Listed are some of the TSET-funded grants working to improve Oklahomans’ health and provide greater access to top-notch health care without having to leave the state:
- Cancer Clinical Trials in Oklahoma
- One of the Nation’s Top Tobacco Use Quit Line
- Physician Manpower Training Commission (PMTC)
- 24/7 Tobacco and Vape Free Schools
Q: How has TSET helped Oklahomans with cancer and heart disease?
A: TSET’s investment in research at the Stephenson Cancer Center gives Oklahomans access to cutting-edge phase one clinical trials without leaving home. TSET’s largest grant goes to Stephenson and is crucial to the center’s 2018 National Cancer Institute designation. Stephenson remains the only NCI-Designated Cancer Center in Oklahoma. TSET funds healthy living and other grant programs across the state designed to reduce obesity, heart disease and diabetes, and to encourage Oklahomans to live healthier lives.
Q: Why should I vote no on 814?
A: TSET’s efforts to curb tobacco use are proven, and the work is not done. Tobacco is still a problem in Oklahoma: It is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in Oklahoma. And it’s clear the tobacco industry has no intentions of backing off of their efforts to addict Oklahomans: It spends an estimated $172 million every year on marketing in the state. By comparison, TSET’s budget is less than $50 million annually on all programs combined.
Q: What is State Question 814?
A: State Question 814 asks voters to reduce the amount of settlement funds going to the trust from 75% to 25%. The ballot language says the Legislature could redirect those funds to pay for Oklahoma’s Medicaid costs.
The money the Legislature could access would cover only a portion of our state’s Medicaid costs now that we are expanding the program. In comparison, protecting those dollars in the endowment for TSET programs will save taxpayers billions of dollars in healthcare costs through prevention. The Legislature needs to improve our health outcomes by funding both treatment and prevention – not taking money from one to pay for the other.
Additionally, the language of SQ 814 says funds must be spent on “Medicaid” and does not make mention of expansion.
Q: Oklahoma must expand Medicaid. How should it pay for that, if not with TSET funds?
A: This spring, the Legislature passed legislation to cover the majority of the state’s Medicaid expansion costs – Gov. Kevin Stitt vetoed the funding bill. Oklahoma has a viable and authorized stream of revenue available to pay for Medicaid expansion. The Legislature does not need to dip into the pockets of preventative programs to provide access to healthcare.
Q: How can I get involved?
A: You can join the fight for TSET’s future by spreading the word and voting NO on State Question 814 this November! You can also visit our Resources page to download and share social media content, fliers, and other campaign materials. You can share your story here.
Q: What will happen if State Question 814 passes?
A: The proposed diversion of funding to the TSET endowment will result in less money for TSET. That means the reduction or elimination of vital grants that span heart disease prevention programs, and cancer prevention, research and treatment grants.
Q: Who makes up the Campaign for a Healthier Oklahoma?
A: The campaign is led by several of the nation’s leading health organizations: The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Americans Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Q: How is the campaign involved with TSET?
A: The campaign is committed to fighting for a healthier Oklahoma and is encouraging Oklahomans to vote NO on State Question 814.