Young people in Cyprus have tried alcohol before they even hit 13 and are almost never asked for ID before being served, MPs heard on Wednesday.
In light of alcohol awareness week, head of the national authority combating addictions (AAEK) Chrysanthos Georgiou told MPs of the House interior and health committees, that the legal drinking age should increase, in a bid to combat the problem.
Although current legislation forbids selling alcohol to those under the age of 18, only two people out of 200 said they were asked for their ID as part of a survey.
Of the two, one said he did not have any identification but was still served alcohol, Georgiou said.
It is a worrying trend that young people go out with the aim to consume alcohol until they are drunk, he added.
Leda Christodoulou and Evi Kyprianou, of AAEK told deputies that students in the second year of secondary school said they had tried alcohol before the age of 13 and young people were unaware of the dangerous effects their bad behaviour could have.
While people in rehab for alcohol are on average 40-years-old, if the current trends continue, people aged 25 to 30 will be in need of treatment, the AAEK reps said.
Additionally, one third of car accidents are directly linked to alcohol, they added.
Cees Good, head of the Alcohol Policy Network told deputies that a number of types of cancer were related to alcohol consumption.
“The later (people start drinking) the better,” he said.
Head of the House interior committee Eleni Mavrou asked for the bill calling on increasing the drinking legal age to be sent to parliament while Green’s MP Charalambos Theopemptou said parliament was ready to go ahead with amendments to the legislation.