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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-10-19

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Saturday, October 19, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Alcoholics becoming younger, study warns
  • [02] Improved postal delivery? Consumers have their doubts
  • [03] Hunters demand game service chief's resignation over raids
  • [04] Do you know your consumer rights?
  • [05] 29 cases under the microscope in co-op investigation
  • [06] Complications in Denktash recovery

  • [01] Alcoholics becoming younger, study warns

    By Alexia Saoulli

    FORTY thousand Cypriots abuse alcohol, experts said yesterday, with alcoholism among young adults on the rise in the past decade and 85 per cent of the population consuming alcohol under the age of 20.

    One in three Cypriots had tried alcohol before their 15th birthdays and 10 per cent admitted they had got drunk at least once before 15. More men are in treatment for alcoholism than women, on a ratio of 8:2.

    These were the results of an epidemiological study carried out by the Centre For Education About Drugs And Treatment Of Drug Addicted Persons (KENTHEA), its Scientific Director, Dr. Kyriakos Veresies, said yesterday.

    The study was carried out in 1999-2000 in collaboration with the Health Ministry, and sampled 1,500 people between the ages of 16 and 60.

    The good news is that Cyprus only ranks 27th out of 30 European countries as far as alcoholism is concerned, said Veresies. As far as alcohol consumption is concerned, however, it ranks 13th. These comparisons were obtained by comparing local statistics with a Paneuropean survey on the same topic, he said.

    "Students in Cyprus do not get as drunk as their peers in other countries do," said Veresies. "These statistics are encouraging and we have no reason to believe they were lying, since the questionnaire was designed in such a way to pinpoint answers that contradicted each other."

    Although there are no known teenage alcoholics at the moment, Veresies said that did not mean there was not an increasing alcohol problem on the island.

    "At the moment, youngsters are being given the message that beer is as innocent as drinking a soft drink. Even worse, they are able to buy vodka- based drinks at kiosks that taste like lemonade. The problem is that no one is willing to admit that what they are actually consuming is hard liquor and one of the worst drugs around."

    Veresies added that 10 to 15 years ago, adults became alcohol dependent around the age of 45 because they picked up the habit later on in life. Now, children started drinking as early as 13 or 14 and so were turning into alcoholics in their mid-twenties, he said.

    "In the past, you drank over a meal, now kids drink before they go out." The difference lay in attitudes towards alcohol and the age at which they were consuming it, thus making dependency much easier, he added.

    But, he admitted, all under-age drinkers did not necessarily become alcoholics.

    "The ones that are most vulnerable are the ones that try to suppress feelings of insecurity with alcohol. A lot of people drink liquor as if it were medicine. They use it to help them get to sleep at night, to relax them after a tiring day at the office, to boost their confidence on a night out or to help them hold a conversation during a social gathering." In other words, they taught themselves to rely on an addictive substance as a means of coping mechanism. This, unfortunately, was a social phenomenon and one most people living in industrial countries faced due to lifestyle pressures, he said.

    "This is very dangerous. Instead of drinking, they should be getting to the root of the problem and learning to build their confidence in other ways, or dealing with why they are depressed and finding it difficult to sleep in the first place," he said.

    Although the survey did not examine binge alcoholism in teenagers, Veresies said it was a possible phenomenon since a great number of them would get drunk on spirits at the weekend, but abstain during the rest of the week.

    "We must get the message across that this is a social problem. The public should be educated and have their eyes opened so that we can help prevent this from getting out of hand," he said.

    "The social, family and physical consequences of alcohol abuse are fatal as it is the hardest drug of all. It destroys relationships, ruins your health much more rapidly than other drugs do and changes your personality," he added. "And worst of all, it is socially acceptable."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Improved postal delivery? Consumers have their doubts

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE ACTING head of the post office yesterday claimed domestic deliveries were now twice as fast as they used to be, with some letters even being delivered on the same day as postage.

    Soteris Avgoustis announced the news, presenting the results of this year's postal service quality survey, which first started in 1996.

    But despite reports of better-quality service, there are still numerous reports of delayed deliveries, no postal service on set days and even examples of delivery service failure due to the weather.

    "Last week, the postman didn't show up because it was raining," one Cyprus Mail reader complained.

    Another said he only received post every other day. "It's a nightmare. I was waiting for my banking exam results one day and they didn't arrive. Everyone else on my course had received theirs and knew if they'd passed or failed," said Demetris Christophides. "I asked my father where the postman was and he just shrugged and told me we only ever got post every other day and that that was the way it had always been."

    Christophides lives on 21, Andreas Demetriou Street, CY-1066, Nicosia. "One week, we don't get post on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the next week, we don't receive any post on Tuesday or Thursday," he said.

    To put his mind at ease over his exam results, Christophides paid his post office in Eleftheria Square a visit. "It was a Thursday and the postman wasn't due to come, so I popped by the post office in person. Sure enough my results were there, but they weren't going to deliver them till the next day."

    The only plus is that postal workers at the various sorting offices are usually friendly and willing to help.

    "I frequently go by and rifle through bags of letters when I'm expecting something in the post that hasn't arrived yet. I'm actually on first names basis with a few of the sorters," said Maria Andreou. "They're very friendly and have even called me up to say they'd found a package I'd been waiting for from Greece."

    But, although they were helpful when she went by, she didn't want to have to feel that in order to get something on time she had to make a personal appearance each time.

    "One time I was waiting for a letter from the UK, which the sender had paid over 3 to send express, and I got it two weeks later. The worst part was, it had been stamped in Nicosia two days after it had been posted in England. In other words it had been sitting in Nicosia for 12 days," said Andreou.

    Stories similar to these are two a penny, but unless official, detailed complaints are made to the postal service department at the time, nothing can be done about it.

    "In the case of letters being delivered every other day or express letters not being delivered promptly, I'd need to know exactly where and when the event took place in order to investigate the matter," said Avgoustis.

    "As for no delivery on rainy days, well what do you expect? Sometimes these things happen and the postman can't go out or he'll get wet," he said, pointing out the service did not have delivery cars and so employees would get drenched if they went on their mopeds in the rain.

    "Besides, it's not as if it rains that often, so delivery service is only suspended under those sorts of extenuating circumstances," he added.

    Normally, letters arrive at the airport at night and are in Nicosia at 6.30am the next day. They are then sorted and delivered the day after that, he said. The same goes for packages and parcels. Registered letters involve sending notices to the receiver, who then picks them up at their nearest post office.

    "Letters are delivered every day Monday to Friday and Datapost are delivered on Saturdays as well," Avgoustis insisted.

    In fact, according to the quality survey, letters weighing no more than 20 grams are now delivered on average in 1.8 days, up 56 per cent from six years ago when it took 4.1 days to receive a letter within towns. Larger letters and packages need at least two days to be delivered within districts. This year, a small portion of letters, 12.6 per cent, are even posted and delivered on the same day.

    Nicosia receives letters posted locally the fastest in an average of 1.4 days, followed by Limassol and Paralimni in 1.6 days, Larnaca and Paphos in 1.8 days and Polis Chrysochous in two days.

    Villages on the outskirts of towns also have much improved postal service this year. Nicosia villages receive letters in 2.8 days on average, Limassol's in 2.3 days, Larnaca's in 2.5 days and Paphos' in 3.3 days. However, there are a few Paphos and Larnaca villages that have to wait 10 days to receive any post.

    This improved situation is due to the operation of a Sorting Centre last year, said Postal Service head Vassos Vassiliou.

    Despite this, Cyprus still does not compare to the European Union's postal service standards.

    Only 49.1 per cent of letters arrive a day after they have been posted here, while in the EU 85-97 per cent of letters do, reports said yesterday.

    Nevertheless, Cyprus would continue to try to improve its postal delivery service, said Vassiliou, particularly since global postal unions suggested postal workloads would increase by two per cent over the next three years, on top of the 6.3 per cent Cyprus has already seen in the past year.

    A new automated sorting system would help meet the service's growing demands, Vassiliou added, as would a further 59 more postmen, which they were waiting for the Finance Ministry to approve.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Hunters demand game service chief's resignation over raids

    By Alex Mita

    THE 'FRIENDS of the Ambelopoulia' Association yesterday called for the immediate resignation of Game Service Director Pantelis Hadjiyerou, after Wednesday night's surprise raids in restaurants in Larnaca that resulted in the seizure of nearly 5,000 birds.

    The president of the Larnaca District Friends of the Ambelopoulia told CyBC the behaviour of the Game Wardens was unacceptable.

    "We have called for the resignation of Pantelis Hadjiyerou because his wardens' behaviour was not becoming," he said.

    "They could have raided the restaurants when there weren't any customers there. Instead, they stormed the place and took the food out of people's plates.

    "The birds are stored in refrigerators and they knew that so they could have come any other time before the restaurants were full of people."

    But Hadjiyerou said his men reacted well within the law, adding that if the wardens had raided the place earlier it wouldn't have made any difference.

    "I don't think it would make much difference what time the Game Service raided the restaurants," he said.

    "Whatever time we went we would have found exactly the same thing."

    Hadjiyerou was furious when asked by CyBC radio why Game Service Wardens were carrying handguns when they raided the restaurants, saying the wardens should be congratulated instead of reprimanded.

    "The issue is not whether they were carrying handguns," he said.

    "Are we trying to find ways to accuse these people who did their work exceptionally well by seizing 5,000 birds? Is this what your are trying to do?

    "People don't understand that by catching these birds and selling them in restaurants they are shaming their country. We should be thanking the wardens for risking their lives day by day to uphold the law. My men receive threats to their lives on a daily basis," Hadjiyerou said.

    Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou yesterday jumped to Hadjiyerou's defence, saying the Game Service director was a dedicated man.

    "Mr Hadjiyerou is one of the most highly regarded scientists of the Game Service and his only flaw is that during his career he followed the law to the letter," he said.

    "There is no chance that Hadjiyerou will be asked to resign."

    Asked whether Game Service wardens were breaking the law by raiding the restaurants in uniform, Panayiotou said the wardens had every right to carry out an investigation.

    "The law states that any member of the police force can enter any premises without a warrant, should he suspect that he would find illegally trapped prey."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Do you know your consumer rights?

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    MOST consumers are unaware of the body of laws that provides consumer rights in Cyprus, an official of the Cyprus Consumers' Association (CCA) said yesterday.

    Consumer Services officer Elli Hadjipaschali gave the Cyprus Mail an example of one of the laws introduced as part of the bundle implemented under the EU acquis communautaire: "A provision exists which states that any product bought after January 28, 2000, is under guarantee for two years. Retailers do not mention this, some don't even know it and most consumers are unaware of it."

    She added, however, that in other areas, like consumer refunds, no protection was available, highlighting the difference in the level of consumer service in Europe and Cyprus. "If you buy something here and want to return it, you can't. It's up to the shop whether they'll give you vouchers or a replacement. They only have to return your money if it is faulty and there's no way of replacing it," she said.

    Hadjipaschali noted the importance attached to good consumer service in Europe compared to Cyprus. "You can find anything you want in Cyprus, but you won't be guaranteed good consumer service, mainly because, unlike Europe, the retailers fail to realise that an unsatisfied consumer won't come back."

    A market survey on consumer goods and services published by the CCA in September has helped to raise consumer awareness, serving to increase the number of consumer complaints in Nicosia by 82 per cent in the past quarter (July to September) compared to the previous quarter. In contrast to last year, this year's third quarterly figures have risen by 64 per cent.

    The majority of complaints, 22.2 per cent, concern the price of consumer goods and services. Second in line, at 13.9 per cent, are a combination of complaints that do not fit into any particular category, such as the painting of one's house. In close third are complaints of faulty products, 11.25 per cent, and fourth, at 9.3 per cent, are safety issues. The number of phone calls made to the consumer service centre for information also increased this quarter, accounting for six per cent of total complaints. The remaining 37.35 per cent covered expired products, organised group holidays, breach of agreements and cases of deception or trickery.

    From the complaints made, Hadjipaschali said 46 per cent had been resolved through investigation and mediation, while 17 per cent were in the process of being resolved. "Those that cannot be resolved by us are forwarded to the Commerce Ministry, but that usually takes a longer period of time," she said. Twenty five per cent of complaints cannot be acted upon because the aggrieved party has failed to make a written complaint. The remaining 12 per cent involve unsubstantiated charges.

    Regarding the huge increase in consumer grievances in the capital, the officer said, "During the summer holidays, people leave the city and go to the seaside or other resorts where they realise that prices are much higher than they expected and wish to voice their opinion." These kinds of complaints are even more common with group excursions abroad, where Cypriot tourists often feel they are being cheated out of their holiday. "They are often sensitive to detail because they expect the same quality of service and hotel accommodation abroad as they would from a three star hotel in Cyprus," said Hadjipaschali. Concerning local matters, she highlighted that consumers would benefit most by being more aware of their rights and powers regarding goods and services.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] 29 cases under the microscope in co-op investigation

    INTERIOR Minister Andreas Panayiotou said yesterday the government was investigating 29 cases of companies evading mortgage fees by registering as members of the Paphos Co-Op Bank.

    The probe has so far shown that the government was defrauded 40,000 in this way. Investigations are expected to be completed by next week.

    On Tuesday, a senior officer of the Paphos co-op was put on administrative leave as allegations mounted. Andreas Tsiappis later told the media that co- op officials were not aware, or were uncertain, that co-op banks could provide such a service to companies, adding that this has been standard practice for 10 years.

    The law states that only individuals can register as members of co-ops. Tsiappis was suggesting that co-op officials misinterpreted the law, thinking loans extend to the companies of directors who applied.

    The same argument was employed yesterday by Vangelis Georgiou, a member of the Pancyprian Co-Op Federation. An announcement issued by the federation on Thursday said that the case in Paphos was an "isolated incident" and that the affair had been blown out of all proportion.

    Meanwhile a criminal investigator has been appointed by the Chief of Police to find possible penal liability for co-op officials.

    A nationwide investigation is in full swing, and yesterday the Interior Minister said that the Famagusta and Larnaca co-ops had been found to be clean. The probe into the Nicosia and Limassol districts would be completed by Monday, and investigations in Paphos by late next week.

    Paphos co-op chairman and DIKO deputy Nicos Pittokopitis has staunchly defended the integrity of the bank, but has been accused of failing to stamp out constant allegations of a scam; a similar case with the co-op and the Land Registry had been investigated in the past.

    Asked yesterday by reporters whether a politician (evidently referring to Pittokopitis) could be called to testify to police investigators, Attorney- general Alecos Markides said the police could not question a deputy without first securing permission from the Supreme Court. Markides added that it was too early to say if such a "drastic" measure was needed at all.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Complications in Denktash recovery

    POSTOPERATIVE complications, following Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash' recent open heart surgery, led his New York doctors to drain a fluid build up in his lungs, the Turkish Cypriot paper Kibris, reported yesterday.

    Denktash's doctors had to drain fluid from his lungs twice, it said. The first intervention resulted in drawing 800 grams of fluid.

    But his spokesman, Ertun Olgun said his health was good and denied innuendos that this treatment was a postoperative complication.

    "There are no complications. After the surgery it is normal to have a certain amount of fluid build up in the lungs. The fluid was drained and he is fine," he said on Thursday, adding that Denktash could be discharged as early as next week.

    New York's Columbia Presbyterian Medical Centre also confirmed the Turkish Cypriot leader was in stable condition, but would not give any further details.

    According to Dr. Dervis Oral, part of the medical team in charge of the 78- year-old, drawing fluid from his lungs would help him breathe more easily. However, he said, his doctors did not want him to be discharged just yet. Oral pointed out this was also because Denktash was a diabetic and that his condition could be controlled better in hospital than in a hotel.

    Meanwhile, Denktash's son Serdar has postponed his trip to New York, after being informed his father's health was on the mend.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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