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).
Since being the first country to introduce a full smoking ban in 2004, Ireland has prided itself on being a pioneer of lifestyle regulation. It currently plans to bring in plain packaging for tobacco and a host of other nanny state policies for food and alcohol including minimum pricing and alcohol advertising bans. In the meantime, it can boast of the world’s highest taxes on alcohol and tobacco in the world. The only EU member states with higher taxes on alcohol are the UK and Finland.
Ireland’s tobacco tax is also sky high, only exceeded by Britain. Spirits advertising is banned on TV and radio, and tobacco advertising is banned in all its forms. The advertising of a wide range of food products is banned on children’s television and there are plans to bring in a 9pm watershed for drinks commercials.
Only vapers have so far escaped the fire of the paternalists. E-cigarettes can be bought and used without restriction.