Welcome to the second edition of the Nanny State Index, a league table of the worst places in the European Union to eat, drink, smoke and vape. The Nanny State Index is an initiative from the European Policy Information Center (EPICENTER).
Download the pdf here.
Christopher Snowdon is the head of Lifestyle Economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs. His research focuses on lifestyle freedoms, prohibition and policy-based evidence. He is a regular contributor to the Spectator Health blog and often appears on TV and radio discussing social and economic issues.
Snowdon’s work encompasses a diverse range of topics including ‘sin taxes’, state funding of charities, happiness economics, ‘public health’ regulation, gambling and the black market. Recent publications include ‘Drinking, Fast and Slow’, ‘The Proof of the Pudding: Denmark’s Fat Tax Fiasco’, ‘The Crack Cocaine of Gambling?’, ‘The Wages of Sin Taxes’, ‘Drinking in the Shadow Economy’, ‘Sock Puppets: How the government lobbies itself and why’ and ‘Closing Time: Who’s killing the British pub?’. He is also the author of ‘Selfishness, Greed and Capitalism’ (2015), ‘The Art of Suppression’ (2011), ‘The Spirit Level Delusion’ (2010) and ‘Velvet Glove, Iron Fist’ (2009).
Traditionally a smoker-friendly country, Belgium has seen a significant extension of smoking bans in recent years, including in some outdoor areas. As in most EU countries, smoking rooms are still permitted. Belgium does not prohibit cigarette vending machines and it does not have a display ban.
E-cigarettes were legalised as consumer products in 2016, but internet sales and e-cigarette advertising are banned. Vaping is banned wherever smoking is banned.
A tax on soft drinks of €0.03 cents per litre was introduced in 2016 and Belgium has legal limits on the amount of salt that can be put into bread, cheese and meat.
Taxes on beer, wine and spirits are all relatively low and owners of bars and restaurants have the freedom to choose when they stop serving alcohol. However, in October 2016, tax on wine was increased by 17 cents per standard bottle and tax on a standard bottle of spirits was increased by €2.52.