Another round is on the way for a Garvin County duo to take big tobacco money and use it to help area residents turn things around with healthier lifestyles.
In the middle of all that is Alan Ware of the TSET Healthy Living Program in Garvin County.
Along with Erin Creach the two have just wrapped up one cycle and are preparing for the next five years of taking funds from the Oklahoma Tobacco Endowment Trust and working to help people quit tobacco use, provide people with access to better nutrition and promote more physical activity.
Ware, during a recent presentation to the Pauls Valley Rotary Club, said the program over the past five years has brought 15 tobacco free policies to schools, cities and businesses in Garvin County. That includes having a part in seeing housing units constructed as tobacco free.
“Today there's a lot more opportunity for people who want to quit,” Ware said about things like phone lines and resources designed to support people needing help to end their tobacco use.
“Here in Garvin County we're still at 26 percent, so we have some work to do,” he said, adding tobacco use in Oklahoma as a whole has dropped in recent years from 28 percent to 19.7 percent.
“Smoking for kids has been cut in half, but there's another issue and that's vaping.
“They think it's just water vapor. That's what they're told, but vaping can be as dangerous as smoking, maybe even potentially more dangerous.
“Right now I'm really concerned about the kids and vaping.”
During all the shutdowns because of the COVID pandemic Ware and Creach have been working to conduct a needs assessment of the county.
“We're trying to identify the hot spots of where we plan to work during this next five-year cycle,” Ware says.
“We're looking forward to working on the new strategies. I'm hoping some of you will let us know what you think.
“We will be looking at physical activity and the things we're not doing.”
According to their assessment, some of those places needing some improvement when it comes to better health are around Stratford, Pauls Valley, Lindsay and out toward the Interstate 35 area from PV down to Wynnewood.
Established by voters, the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) is a state grant-making trust devoted to preventing cancer and cardiovascular disease, Oklahoma's leading causes of death.
By awarding grants to schools, communities, state agencies and partner organizations, TSET works to improve the health of Oklahoma's citizens. It also funds research and emerging opportunities in the public and private sectors.