January Newsletter

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January Newsletter

January 31, 2020

Fifty Oklahoma establishments go smokefree with Free the Night

Free the Night, a TSET-funded program that helps bars and venues adopt voluntary smokefree policies, just recorded its 50th win.

Edna’s, an iconic staple in Oklahoma City’s nightlife, followed through with a New Year’s resolution and went smokefree on January 1.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Tammy Lucas, Edna’s owner and manager. “My mom is Edna. She passed away a few years ago from lung cancer, and I think that really motivated me. It’s not easy to make the transition, but it’s been worth it.”

Oklahoma currently has loopholes in its clean indoor air policies that allow more than 30,000 workers and business owners to be exposed to hazardous secondhand smoke.

“Our crowd has always been young and as we’ve transitioned to nonsmoking, more people are becoming aware of the impact of smoking,” Lucas said. “Our employees appreciate not leaving work smelling like cigarettes, and that they don’t have to worry about it affecting their health. Another positive is that we don’t have to worry about our merchandise smelling like smoke.”

Oklahoma is one of a handful of states that does not allow municipalities to pass policies to protect workers. State laws would have to change to protect all Oklahoma workers.

“I would love to see a law passed that pushes bars to go smokefree,” Lucas said. “It would be healthier for everyone and level the playing field for all bars.”

In the absence of state law protection, TSET funds Free The Night to provide resources to business owners that want to go smokefree. Free The Night assists with surveys of bar patrons and education efforts once a smokefree policy is adopted. This program is just one way TSET works to fulfill its Constitutional mandate to “reduce the toll of tobacco” on Oklahomans.

Learn more at freethenightok.org.


Pictured above from left to right: Tammy Lucas, Edna's Owner; Mason Ward, Edna's Patron and Raffle Winner; Maria Grundy, Campaign Manager for Free the Night.

TSET Board re-elects Chair and Vice-Chair


At their January meeting, the TSET Board of Directors re-elected Dr. Bruce Benjamin as Chair and Michelle Stephens as Vice-Chair. Each board officer term is one year, and it will be Benjamin’s and Stephens’ second year serving in their respective roles.

Benjamin, appointed by the House Speaker, is the Vice Provost for Graduate programs, interim vice president for research and associate professor of physiology at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences. He is a member of the American Physiological Society and the Oklahoma Physiological Society.

Stephens, appointed by the Governor, is an attorney who previously served on the Oklahoma Commission for Human Services, State Board of Education and State CareerTech Board. Stephens has been a practicing attorney since 1992, serving as an Assistant Attorney General under Susan Loving and Drew Edmondson. Stephens is a member of the Board of Trustees for Oklahoma Christian University and a member of the State 4-H Horse Council. She was a member of the Oklahoma 4-H Volunteer Council and served on the Weatherford School Board for 11 years

OCASCR using TSET funds to promote regenerative medicine research

The Oklahoma Center for Adult Stem Cell Research (OCASCR), a TSET-funded research center, is accepting grant applications for research projects to further next generation research in Oklahoma.

“It can’t be ignored that smoking- and obesity-related diseases are particularly deadly in Oklahoma, which is why OCASCR’s regenerative medicine research is so important,” said OCASCR Scientific Director Courtney Griffin, Ph.D. ”OCASCR is grateful for TSET funding that supports Oklahoma scientists striving to make our state healthier with their cutting-edge research."

OCASCR focuses their research grants on diseases caused by smoking or obesity. Tobacco use, sedentary lifestyle and poor diet are the main contributors to the four leading diseases, lung disease, cancer, heart disease and stroke and diabetes. These four diseases cause 65% of deaths in Oklahoma including many premature deaths.


Local TSET Healthy Living Program grant helps Seminole BancFirst make strides toward wellness

With help from the TSET Healthy Living Program (HLP), BancFirst in Seminole is improving the health and wellness of employees, customers and the community.

BancFirst began by becoming a tobacco-free workplace and placed a TSET Healthy Living Program banner in their entryway.

“That opened the door for more wellness policies,” said Bettye Finch, TSET Healthy Living Program consultant in Seminole County. “It’s a big start for them.”

With help from TSET grant-funded staff in Seminole County, the bank formed a countywide wellness committee and incorporated new objectives to promote healthy living among staff.

The wellness committee chairman, Nathan Palmer, is a “fierce health advocate,” Finch said. Over the last several years, Palmer lost 150 pounds from lifestyle changes and now encourages coworkers at BancFirst by sending out daily health tips regarding nutrition, wellness, and physical activity.

“We give people the motivation to better themselves – to eat better, drink more water and be more active,” Palmer said. “We try to get people thinking about their health choices.”

Those wellness initiatives have spread to all four BancFirst locations in Seminole County.