A draft law on raising the minimum age for buying alcoholic drinks from 17 to 18 years was discussed on Monday by the House interior committee after an EU report found Cyprus students ranked 3rd in Europe in alcohol consumption.
The bill was proposed by Green party MP Charalambos Theopemptou, who expressed the hope that the measure would be the first of a series to bring the growing problem of alcohol consumption among underage pupils under control.
“Cyprus is the third country in Europe with easy access for students to alcohol with ever-increasing rates. Thirty five per cent of girls and 50 per cent of boys get drunk on their nights out,” Theopemptou said.
Drinking alcohol among pupils in Cyprus is well above the EU average, according to an ESPAD (European School Research Program on Alcohol and Other Drugs) report of the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction published in November 2016 in Lisbon. Cyprus ranked third among 48 countries.
ESPAD reported that Cypriot students (from the government-controlled areas, as the reports clarified) reported high levels of alcohol use (68 per cent compared to the EU average of 48 per cent), including cases of heavy and incidental alcohol consumption (50 per cent compared to 35 per cent which is the EU average).
The survey was conducted among students aged 15 to 16 in 48 European countries and included a wide array of addictions.
According to the main findings, on average more than 60 per cent of pupils in the participating countries responded that it is very easy for them to buy cigarettes if they wanted to.
Almost half of the students (47 per cent) reported drinking alcohol by the age of 13. The highest proportions were found in Georgia (72 per cent), the Czech Republic (68 per cent) and Cyprus (68 per cent). The countries with the lowest rates were Iceland (14 per cent) and Norway (19 per cent).