CATEGORY: Tupelo Stories
HED:Group plots anti-tobacco youth plans
By Marty Russell
Agency representatives who deal with youths and health met Tuesday in Tupelo to map strategy for anti-smoking programs in 13 Northeast Mississippi counties.
The group, known collectively as the Partnership for a Healthy Northeast Mississippi, recently received a $90,000 grant from the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi, a nonprofit organization created with proceeds from the state’s tobacco settlement.
The grant is being administered by North Mississippi Health Services Foundation and organizers are attempting to bring together a variety of agencies for maximum impact.
“We’re here today to talk about the program and what we’re going to do to prevent tobacco use in youth,” said Dottie Wilson, program director and nurse practitioner with NMHS’ Community Health Department.
The counties participating in the Northeast Mississippi program include Alcorn, Benton, Chickasaw, Itawamba, Lafayette, Lee, Marshall, Monroe, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Tippah, Tishomingo and Union.
Represented at Tuesday’s organizational meeting were the state Department of Health, NMHS, local school districts, the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence, Lift Inc. and the Prairie Girl Scout Council.
Roger Riley, deputy director for District II of the health department and chairman of the partnership group, said about 30 agencies are expected to be involved over the life of the grant, which expires in November.
“In all there are 29 community youth partnerships throughout the state,” Riley said. “I think we were the largest-funded of any of the partnerships.”
Wilson said bringing the groups together will allow wider dissemination of anti-smoking techniques effective among youths.
“I can share ideas and things I’ve learned in Jackson and they can take that back to their programs,” she said.
Tuesday’s meeting in Northeast Mississippi comes on the heels of an announcement Monday of a statewide anti-smoking advertising campaign aimed at youths and spearheaded by state Attorney General Mike Moore.
In the Northeast Mississippi area, programs already under way include the T.A.A.P. (Teen Addiction Awareness Program) conducted by the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency. Riley and Wilson said they would also like to see peer leadership programs developed that would let youths learn the dangers of tobacco use from people their own age.