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Drinking age raised from 17 to 18, penalties hiked for illegal sales

The drinking age in Cyprus has been raised to 18 from 17 after a lawmakers voted on the long-standing bill on Friday.

Parliament passed the draft bills presented by Greens MP Charalambos Theopemptou and Solidarity MP Michalis Giorgallas.

The new amendments to the law restrict the sale and consumption of alcohol and raises fines for businesses charged with selling alcohol to minors.

The two bills amending the Sale of Alcohol Bill were passed 35 to 20.

They were passed with a majority from opposition parties, with the 20 ‘nay’ votes coming from ruling-Disy and far-right Elam.

The third draft bill amending the law to hike penalties was passed with 53 votes in favour and two against.

Specifically, the fines will be €500 out of court.  If convicted in court, individuals found to be selling or distributing alcohol to minors could be sentenced to six months in prison or fined €3,000 or both.

Ahead of the vote, Theopemptou thanked the house interior committee for making changes to the initial draft bill, based on recommendations from the World Health Organisation and the European Union.

Giorgallas, who co-authored the bills, said the continued high consumption rate of alcohol among teens necessitated the initiative for the bills.

However, Akel MP and head of the house interior committee Eleni Mavrou, even though her party voted in favour, said the bills did not help “develop a culture of critical thinking”, which is what Cyprus should strive to do.

Elam deputy Linos Papayiannis said the key was enforcement of the previous law related the sale of alcohol and changing the drinking age would not make sense in this context.

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