Flaggs honored for anti-tobacco efforts

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 27, 2001

[02/27/01] Rep. George Flaggs, who has represented Warren County in the Mississippi House of Representatives for nearly 14 years, was honored at a Jackson rally Tuesday by Students Working Against Tobacco and the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi.

Flaggs was one of four legislators honored with the group’s Outstanding Legislator 2000 Awards. Others receiving the awards were Sen. Barbara Blackmon of Canton, and Reps. Donny Ryals of Grenada and May Whittington of Schlater.

Flaggs was honored for his help with the faith-based programs of the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi and for his leadership for the partnership in Warren and Claiborne counties. Flaggs also supported House Bill 641, which banned tobacco use on all public school campuses and at school-sponsored events.

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“He also opened up his committee on juvenile justice for a presentation from the partnership,” said Sharon Garrison, public relations manager for the partnership.

In addition to the honors for the legislators, the rally also honored eight SWAT members from across Mississippi for their work on the local level.

“The partnership was formed to attack tobacco use in Mississippi through education and advocacy,” said Attorney General Mike Moore, chairman of the PHM board of directors. “The combination of grassroots efforts by SWAT members and support from lawmakers has greatly impacted the reach of tobacco in Mississippi. The results are undeniable since the spring of 1999, we have seen a 21 percent drop in the number of public middle school students using tobacco. We appreciate the dedication of everyone represented at the rally and remain committed to the fight for every Mississippian’s right to a healthier tomorrow.”

In addition to participating in a mock legislative session, those attending the rally heard from National Football League players Todd Pinkston of the Philadelphia Eagles, T.J. Slaughter of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Adalius Thomas of the Baltimore Ravens.

The SWAT program targets students in grades 4 through 7 and is a school- and community-based education and advocacy program that allows youths to take an active role on tobacco issues in their communities.

The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi is a non-profit organization of more than 60 statewide governmental and non-governmental agencies and more than 700 local groups. It is dedicated to offering youths responsible lifestyle choices. It is funded by an award from the tobacco industry separate from the state’s $4 billion tobacco settlement.