Samantha Dean, a 12th grader from Laurel, is a member of the Generation Free Youth Advisory Board This is her fourth year helping to develop what's called "I Fly" Youth Conferences, to educate young people about the harmful effects of tobacco-related products.
"How it can decrease quality of life, not being able to breathe as well. Sports, that's something a lot of middle school students are involved in. We talk about lung cancer, throat cancer, mouth cancer, all those things that can be caused from numerous tobacco products." said Dean.
Seventh and eighth graders from Ruleville, Kosciusko and Vicksburg are at Millsaps College for the half-a-day program. Emily Austin is with the American Lung Association of Mississippi.
"Who can tell me what the average age of onset is of tobacco use is. Oh, you guys are good--12." said Austin
Austin explains the pervasiveness of tobacco advertising.
"They're on the utility poles as you're walking into the store. They're in the parking lot on stand alone signs. They're on the windows, the doors, they're inside, they're outside. Tobacco advertising is everywhere." said Austin.
Students are also learning about smokeless tobacco, cigars, cigarillos and e-cigarettes. Frederick Wiley is with the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi.
"We try to equip our youth today to go back to their communities and teach their peers, but not only their peers but their parents of the dangers accompanied by using tobacco products." said Wiley.
According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, 5400 Mississippians die every year from tobacco-related illnesses and 500 die from secondhand smoke.