• 63°

Aldermen approve Noah’s Law

In the interest of public health and safety, the Oxford Board of Aldermen fast-tracked an ordinance that  will go into effect immediately dealing with the sale of caffeine products to minors, joining other area communities that have passed a similar law.

By law, new or amended ordinances are required to go into effect 30 days after they are voted on and approved. However, if aldermen decide the new law is in the best interest of public health and safety, they can waive the 30-day period and put the new laws into effect immediately.

Aldermen unanimously passed and fast-tracked Noah’s Law, which bans the sale of caffeine pills and powders to minors inside the city limits.

Noah Smith, 17, died last year following an accidental overdose of caffeine pills he took to stay awake. Smith was a senior at Water Valley High School. His mother, Jennifer Westmoreland, took her story to state legislators to try to pass the law banning the pills and powders from minors during the 2015 Legislative Session.

Passing a law

However, while the House passed the bill, it died in the Senate committee. The Mississippi Attorney General issued an opinion that said local governments can pass their own laws to ban the products from being sold to youths under 18 and requiring store clerks to check identifications like they do when selling cigarettes and alcohol.

Several counties and cities have passed the ban, including Lafayette and Yalobusha counties. Lafayette County passed the pan earlier this summer. Also Tuesday night, the Tallahatchie County Supervisors also approved the ban during its regular meeting.

“I’m so glad,” Westmoreland said Tuesday night. “I truly feel like we are finally getting somewhere and so many of our elected officials actually do care about what’s going on. I know Noah is smiling from heaven seeing that his death was not in vain and we are working together to save the lives of the children in Mississippi.”

Ben Larson, owner of Larson’s CashSaver said he heard about the ban Tuesday night. He hasn’t received notification from the city as of this morning.

“They’ll send out a notification and we’ll abide by that and put it into effect,” Larson said this morning. “I think most people will understand the seriousness of the problem and abide (by the new policy).”

Compliance

The Oxford Police Department is going to be working with businesses to educate them on the ordinance, according to Maj. Jeff McCutchen.

“They will also be given time to comply with the law,” he wrote in a press release this morning. “Any caffeine pill or caffeine powder with more than 25 percent of caffeine falls under the ordinance. The caffeinated products do not have to be moved behind counter, but effective immediately, customers must be 18 years or older and show proof of identification to purchase the products.”

After businesses have been allowed time to comply with the ordinance, OPD will be conducting business checks to make sure businesses are complying with the caffeine ordinance.

“They will be similar to the checks for cigarette sales,” McCutchen said.