Fund Cited for Decline in Oklahoma Smokers

Oklahpma City, OK – Oklahoma officials are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the settlement of a lawsuit against tobacco companies.

Gov. Brad Henry has proclaimed Nov. 23 as ``A Healthier Oklahoma Day,'' marking the anniversary of the Master Settlement Agreement with tobacco companies in 1998.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson says Oklahoma is the only state in the nation to establish a constitutionally protected trust fund to ensure anti-tobacco funding will be available year after year.

Officials report that the number of adult smokers fell from 28.7 percent in 2001 in Oklahoma to 25.2 percent in the first six months of this year. Still, that's more than 5 percent higher than the national rate of smoking.

Edmondson says the trust fund will eventually allow Oklahoma to win the war against tobacco use. The fund provided $15.5 million for tobacco control programs this fiscal year.