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).
Hungary has the most extensive system of food and soft drink taxes in Europe. Laws introduced in 2011 placed sin taxes on a host of foods that are deemed high in salt, sugar and/or fat including sweets, crisps and jam. There are also taxes on sugary drinks and energy drinks.
Tobacco is heavily regulated with graphic warnings and a vending machine ban. There are restrictions on when and where alcohol advertisements can be shown. There is also a full ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and workplaces, and smoking is even banned in some outdoor areas. Tobacco cannot be sold without a licence and it is illegal to display tobacco products in a manner that makes them visible from outside.
To make matters worse, nicotine-containing e-cigarette fluid is effectively prohibited because it is classified as a medical product. If you can get hold of an e-cigarette, however, it is legal to use it indoors.