This is the first 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).
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).
After the Czech Republic, Germany has the best record of any EU country for resisting nanny state legislation. Its beer tax is one of the lowest in the EU, taxes on spirits are below the EU average, and there is no sin tax on wine. Germany allows alcohol advertising in all its forms, including on television after 6pm, and there is no statutory closing time for bars.
Smoking restrictions vary by region but bans are generally less draconian than those of most European countries and its tobacco tax is lower than the EU average. There is no vending machine ban or display ban, no graphic warnings and some tobacco advertising is permitted so long as it cannot be seen in other EU member states (in accordance with EU law).
E-cigarettes can be advertised, sold and used without restriction.