The Nanny State Index (NSI) is a league table of the worst places in the European Union to eat, drink, smoke and vape. The initiative was launched in March 2016 and was a media hit right across Europe. It is masterminded and led by IEA’s Christopher Snowdon with partners from all over Europe. The 2017 edition of the index was revealed during a full day conference in Brussels and featured high level discussions and debates between MEPs, industry experts, think tankers and regulators about the effects of regulation on health outcomes.
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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).
Alcohol commercials cannot be broadcast before 9pm in Malta and there is a total ban on tobacco and e-cigarette advertising. Malta was one of the first countries to ban smoking indoors (2004) and its ban is more draconian than most, although there are exemptions in practice. Smoking in cars with passengers aged under 18 was banned in January 2017 with fines of €50.
Vaping is relatively common in Malta, but there has been confusion about whether e-cigarettes, which are regulated as tobacco products on the island, are banned in public places. Some health groups have claimed that they are but, in 2015, a woman who had been fined €233 for vaping in an enclosed place had her conviction overturned on appeal. The court confirmed that the smoking ban only applies to tobacco products, not e-cigarettes.
A public consultation was conducted in late 2016 with a view to toughening laws on drink-driving and alcohol promotion. Malta introduced a tax on wine for the first time in 2015, at a rate of €0.21 per litre.
With thanks to Martin Eriksson, editor of Corax