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).
Taxes on beer, wine and spirits are all higher than the EU average in Estonia. The country has mixed rules on alcohol advertising, allowing it on TV and radio after 9pm but banning wine and spirits advertising outdoors.
Its near-total ban on tobacco advertising is typical of EU member states, as is its ban on cigarette vending machines. Estonia’s smoking restrictions are less severe than most EU countries, but a ban on smoking in cars with children was introduced in 2016 (with maximum fines of €300) and a ban on smoking in prisons will come into effect in October 2017. A tobacco display ban that would apply to all shops except specialist tobacconists was proposed in late 2016.
A law that effectively prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes was overturned in 2013 and they can now be sold as consumer products. There are currently few restrictions on vaping indoors, although a vaping ban was proposed in December 2016.
Life is likely to get worse for consumers in the coming years as Estonia slides down the slippery slope of nanny state interference. It has been reported that the new government plans to introduce a soft drink tax and raise alcohol taxes by 2019. A ban on e-cigarette flavours has been proposed, as has a tax on e-cigarette fluid.
In February 2016, the Ministry of Social Affairs proposed a ban on outdoor alcohol advertising and limiting other alcohol advertising to simple information about the product plus health warnings. The bill failed to become law but the new Minister for Health, Jevgeni Ossinovski, remains keen on the idea, saying in December 2016: ‘My goal is to ban [alcohol] advertising, just like tobacco advertising has been banned for 15 years already,’ Ossinovski said in an interview with the paper. ‘I don’t see any reason to treat tobacco and alcohol differently.’
With thanks to Meelis Kitsing, Estonian Business School