MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

March 29, 2014

As e-cig use grows, so does talk of regulation

Proponents cite safety; industry argues that rules will chase users back to tobacco

(Continued)

Health vs.

grant money

In Tahlequah, the Community Health Coalition of Cherokee County endorsed an ordinance to ban the use of e-cigs on city property. That ordinance, passed at a recent meeting, bans the use of electronic cigarettes on city-owned or -operated property.

Muskogee Against Tobacco and Sequoyah (County) Wellness Partnership are part of Muskogee Turning Point and are administered through the Muskogee County Health Department. The funding for these coalitions and programs comes from the Tobacco Endowment Trust Settlement.

The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, or TSET, is a state agency that makes grants aimed at reducing the leading causes of preventable death in Oklahoma — cancer and heart disease — by focusing on tobacco use prevention and obesity prevention.

Tracey Strader, TSET director, said her agency, in an effort to promote the certified health program, created the Incentive Grant program.

D’Elbie Walker oversees the Muskogee and Sequoyah counties’ programs.

For 2012, two grants were received for the Muskogee and Sequoyah county coalition.

“Our two grants make up the Turning Point Coalition,” Walker said.

The grant provided $320,000 for the coalition, Walker said. A separate grant, the Fitness and Nutrition grant, provided $120,000 from TSET.

In 2000, Oklahoma approved a constitutional amendment that allowed TSET to invest payments from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement. TSET programs and grants are funded by the earnings from the endowment fund.

“E-cigs are the largest step forward in tobacco harm reduction in 50 years,” Gore said.

If tobacco sales go down, so does the amount of money into the trust by big tobacco companies, he said.

The Certified Healthy Oklahoma Business Program began in 2003 as a way to recognize businesses that were working to improve employee health. In 2010, House Bill 2774 created the Certified Healthy Schools and Communities Act. Colleges have also been added to that list.

For Muskogee to receive the maximum funding, $120,000 from the Certified Healthy program, one criteria it must meet is be tobacco free.

Tobacco free, according to the Healthy Communities Incentive criteria, means “all city-owned/operated properties are tobacco free (indoors and outdoors) and includes chewing tobacco, snuff and e-cigarettes.”

Only communities that have received certification through the Certified Healthy Oklahoma program in 2013 are eligible to apply for Incentive grant funds in 2014, and Muskogee was deemed a Certified Healthy City in 2013.  

 Reach E.I. Hillin at (918) 684-2926 or ehillin@muskogeephoenix.com.

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