The TSET Healthy Living Program serving Cherokee County wishes good luck and health to all Class of 2021 seniors graduating this spring, as they begin a new chapter in their lives.
Healthy habits and chronic disease prevention are vital for a good start in life – especially in Oklahoma, where tobacco use, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity contribute to the leading causes of preventable death. The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, which funds the local TSET Healthy Living Program grant, offers programs that help teens and others lay the foundation for healthy and bright futures.
“Cherokee County is faced with a greater prevalence of heart disease deaths, cancer deaths, individuals with diabetes, and obesity than our overall state prevalence,” said Lora Buechele, Cherokee County TSET Healthy Living Program coordinator.
A major area of concern is vaping and tobacco use. While smoking rates among adults and teens are declining, youth vaping has skyrocketed since 2017. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 1 in 4 Oklahoma teens – 27.8 percent – reported vaping in the past 30 days.
E-cigarettes are the most popular tobacco products among youth, and vapes often have a high concentration of nicotine. This makes vaping a challenge to quit, which could lead to a lifetime of addiction. According to new Truth Initiative data, 60 percent of current cigarette users ages 15 to 24 want to quit vaping within the year.
For Oklahoma teens 13-17 who vape or use tobacco, TSET provides the text-based cessation coaching of My Life, My Quit. By visiting mylifemyquit.com or texting “Start My Quit” to 36072, 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. TSET also funds free quit services and resources for adult Oklahomans through the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline (OKHelpline.com or 1-800-QUIT NOW).
“It is important to understand the reality of this vaping epidemic in our own community and work with individuals to get the support they need to quit,” said Buechele.
In overall health, Oklahoma ranks 47th among the 50 states and has one of the highest rates of child and adult obesity. Shape Your Future and the TSET Healthy Youth Initiative, both programs of TSET, provide a wealth of free resources and information to help Oklahomans eat better and create healthier lifestyles.
“Healthy eating is an important part of maintaining overall health for everyone,” said Dr. Ashley Weedn, pediatrician, assistant professor and director of the Healthy Future Clinic in Oklahoma City. “Keep in mind that even making one healthy habit change, such as limiting sugary beverages, can improve health.”
Graduates can download easy advice from Weedn to help keep nutrition top-of-mind. Post it on the refrigerator for a quick reminder to eat well.
In addition to eating healthy, getting regular, daily exercise is also a major component to jumpstarting a healthy lifestyle. Shape Your Future offers physical activity ideas plus meal plans and healthy recipes that are easy to make and have minimal ingredients to help put graduates on a healthy course.
Knowing how to make healthy choices on-the-go is a life skill every young adult should master. Swap up, a program of the TSET Healthy Youth Initiative, has simple tips for teens on how to swap out fat- and sugar-heavy foods and beverages for ones that give them energy and focus. Tap into the campaign at SwapUpOK.com.
For more resources and programs to put graduates on a healthy life course, visit TSET.OK.GOV.
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