Anti-Smoking Advocates Say Partnership Money Saves Lives

The recent lawsuit had people like Anna Lett talking about her church youth group, which has an anti-smoking ministry - something she does not want to see go up in smoke.

"After you get to be an adult, it's a bit late. But when you start training children, I think that's important to begin. We can do a lot with that money to educate our children and I feel like it's a bad decision," said Lett.

Dawn Wilson agrees. She is one of 52 school nurses employed by the Partnership, and has seen the program's benefits.

"I have had several parents come to me, just this school year, talking about because of their children and the program that we have in our school for tobacco prevention and education, that they have been able to quit smoking. So it's really great. The kids will come up and they'll tell you little slogans that they've learned through our education that we've done," said Wilson.

"We're really disappointed that Medicaid would make such a move against our funding since they actually are very much a beneficiary of the successes that the Partnership has enjoyed over the years. When you reduce the number of teens that are smoking, you're saving millions of future healthcare dollars, and thousands of lives," said Partnership of Healthy Mississippi Sandra Shelson.

Shelson says the group is currently travelling to various parts of the state to let communities know about the partnership and what it provides, and it will continue to do just that.

"We feel strongly that we will prevail," said Shelson.

One misconception the group tried to clear up is the $20 million allocated to the group is not only spent on television ads. Director Sandra Shelson says 75-percent of that money is spent on educational programming.