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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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SOME 10 days ago, foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides raised expectations by announcing the possibility of a deal with Turkey for the opening of the fenced off area of Famagusta, for the return of its inhabitants. In exchange the Cyprus government would agree to the opening of Tymbou airport to direct flights. ...
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By George Psyllides PRIVATE auditors have expressed doubt the electricity authority (EAC) could be considered a going concern and have asked its board to draft a credible plan to tackle the problem, according to the auditor-general’s 2012 report on the semi-state company. Among other issues, ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Only punishment can ensure respect for the law ]

Only punishment can ensure respect for the law

SIX YEARS ago, the legislature approved an anti-smoking law which, at the time, was the toughest in the European Union. The law banned smoking in state buildings, restaurants, nightclubs, indoor sports arenas and cinemas, long before this draconian measure had been adopted in European countries.

However, the law has never been enforced and we often see people in restaurants, sitting next to big ‘No smoking’ signs, happily puffing away and feeling proud about ignoring the rules. And if someone dares to protest, the smoker tells him to mind his own business. In Cyprus, paradoxically, it is the non-smokers, who are the persecuted group, whose rights are respected by nobody.

This collective disregard for the law was highlighted in an open letter by two Supreme Court judges, who pointed out that “between 2002 and 2008 there has not been an actual compliance with the anti-smoking law, nor has it been effectively enforced”. The latter part of this observation could qualify as the understatement of the year, because the fining of a few pub-owners per year for permitting smoking on their premises could hardly be described as enforcement.

The judges noted that there were some loopholes in the law, which were being exploited, but the truth is that the problem runs much deeper. It stems from our society’s failure to cultivate respect for the law – not to mention consideration for others – among its citizens, many of whom are happy to ignore the law as long as they can get away with it. Many citizens view the law as a nuisance and when they break it and are not caught they love to brag about it.

In a country like Cyprus, in which people have a generally low regard for the law, the only way to cultivate respect for the law is through the fear of punishment. Our road behaviour improved dramatically once the traffic cameras were installed because of the fear of fines, but as soon as the cameras were switched off we immediately returned to our old habits. Sadly, if the fear of punishment is absent, very few citizens feel the need to obey the law.

This is why owners of restaurants, bars and clubs do not bother enforcing the smoking ban on their premises. If they were made to pay a hefty fine or threatened with a week’s closure, they would make sure that their customers obeyed the ‘No smoking’ signs that they all have stuck to the walls of their establishments. Ironically, they have the signs because they are obliged by law to have them, but are oblivious to the fact that their customers take no notice of them.

If the police and municipal authorities inspected public premises and imposed hefty fines on the owners, combined with the threat of closure for repeat offenders – as the judges suggested – the latter would have ensured the smoking ban was respected. But this has never been the case, thus sending out the signal, right from the start, that the law was a dead letter. And it will continue to be a dead letter for as long as the police show no interest in ensuring its enforcement.

(Source: Cyprus Mail)

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