TSET initiative prioritizes health of Oklahoma youth

BY STAFF REPORTS
08/14/2020 11:30 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY – According to the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, Oklahoma youth face health challenges like never before, from the increase in teen vaping to rising rates of obesity.

To help tackle these trends, the TSET launched its Healthy Youth Initiative to educate Oklahoma teens and help them make informed choices about their health.

The statewide media campaign addresses vape and tobacco use as well as obesity among Oklahoma youth ages 13-18. The educational messages kicked off on social and digital media on Aug. 3 and will appear on TV, cable and radio on Aug. 24.

“The TSET board of directors approved this project because we see the devastating effects of vape use in our own communities,” said board Vice Chairwoman Michelle Stephens. “And we can’t overlook the fact that youth obesity rates in Oklahoma are among the highest in the nation. Prevention is integral to producing better health outcomes for Oklahomans today and in the future.”

Tobacco use and obesity are the leading causes of preventable death in Oklahoma. The TSET board of directors has identified youth prevention and health improvement as a priority in its multi-year strategic plan. Earlier this year, TSET issued a request for proposal for firms who could provide expertise in youth work. In May, the TSET board awarded a contract to Rescue Agency to develop youth prevention campaigns to counter tobacco- and obesity-related health behaviors that are putting teens at risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended media campaigns as an effective practice in preventing and reducing tobacco use and other negative health behaviors.

The first campaigns target youth vaping and tobacco use. “Behind the Haze - Defenseless” delivers educational content exposing the truth about e-cigarettes and discouraging teens from vape use. “Down and Dirty - Teardown” is designed to change tobacco and vape-related attitudes and behaviors among rural teens. Parents can learn more by visiting TSETHealthyYouth.com.

For Oklahoma teens 13-17 who are already vaping or using tobacco, TSET provides text-based cessation coaching of My Life, My Quit. By visitingmylifemyquit.com or texting “Start My Quit” to 855-891-9989, teens can connect to free live texting and web chat support personalized for them. The services are confidential and do not provide nicotine patches, gum or lozenges. Some ads for the TSET Healthy Youth Initiative will also promote the cessation program. TSET also funds free quit services and resources for Oklahomans 18 and older through the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline 1-800-QUIT NOW or visit OKhelpline.com.

The youth initiative will also show teens how to avoid unhealthy empty calories and replace them with nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables and water. Currently in development, the obesity prevention campaign will complement TSET’s Shape Your Future messaging. Shape Your Future encourages parents, teachers, and kids to build healthier habits – one small step at a time – by providing tons of tips, hacks and helpful resources at shapeyourfutureok.com.

“The TSET Healthy Youth Initiative is a natural extension of work we’re already doing to reduce obesity in our state. Prioritizing the younger generation is one of the most effective ways to improve health outcomes in Oklahoma,” said TSET Executive Director Julie Bisbee. “As teens approach adulthood, they’re making more independent choices about the food they eat. It is TSET’s goal to empower Oklahoma youth to have healthy habits for a lifetime.”

The obesity prevention campaign is planned to launch next year.

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