The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Board of Investors on Wednesday certified a little more than $35 million from the 2013 fiscal year to be used by the board of directors in FY14.
The Board of Investors manages investments of Oklahoma’s share of the Master Settlement Agreement and makes investment related decisions.
Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Executive Director Tracey Strader said the trust is primarily focused in obesity prevention and reducing tobacco use.
“We focus primarily in those areas because our plan requires us to reduce cardio vascular disease and cancer in Oklahoma,” Strader said. “We started with 100 percent of the earnings going to tobacco prevention because in the early years, we had less than $1 million or $10 million in a year. We have been ramping programs up as the earnings grow.”
Strader said the $35 million certified by the board will be spent on evidence based or best practices based programs including prevention programs, like the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, program grants, research and unsolicited proposals.
Strader said one of the best unsolicited programs is the Physician Manpower Training Commission. The commission helps doctors who establish practice in rural or underserved areas pay off student loans.
“The program has been in existent in Texas and Texas was draining Oklahoma from talent because of this program,” Strader said. “So, everything we do is dedicated to health in some way.”