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.

Enquiries: info@epicenternetwork.eu

Download the pdf here.


About the Editor

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).

Nanny State Criteria 2017

Welcome to the second edition of the Nanny State Index, an EPICENTER project that ranks the EU’s 28 member states to identify the worst places to eat, drink, smoke and vape.

The Nanny State Index consists of three main categories: alcohol, nicotine and diet. Each of the three categories is weighted equally at 33.3 per cent. Nicotine is subdivided into tobacco and e-cigarettes, each with an equal weighting within that category, meaning that they both have a weighting of 16.66 per cent overall.



Each category has a number of different criteria. Points are scored for each criteria and are then weighted and combined to reach the final score. The Nanny State Index is concerned with policies that have an adverse impact on consumers. Policies are given different weights to reflect the extent to which consumers are negatively affected, from relatively minor inconveniences to heavy taxes or outright prohibition.

Paternalistic policies typically reduce the individual’s quality of life in one or more of the following ways:

– raising prices prices (through taxation or retail monopolies)
– stigmatising consumers
– restricting choice
– inconveniencing consumers
– limiting information (with advertising bans)
– reducing product quality

The Index includes any policy that is designed to deter consumption of legal products. The criteria for each category and their weightings are shown on the pages for alcohol, e-cigarettes, food and soft drinks, and tobacco.

All data reflects the legal status on 1 January 2016 to the best of our knowledge. From May 2016, members states will have to abide by a new Tobacco Products Directive which will standardise much of the regulation of tobacco and e-cigarettes. The next edition of the Index will be adjusted to account for this regulatory change.

Note that we do not make adjustments for how the law is enforced. Some countries may not police some of their regulations effectively, but this is unquantifiable. We are interested only in what the (national) law says, not whether it is easy to flout the law in practice.

The Index could not have been compiled without the valuable assistance of our network of friends throughout Europe and the think tanks listed on the homepage. While every effort has been made to verify the data from multiple sources, please notify us if you believe the Index contains any errors.


Selected sources

European Commission: excise duty tables
Spirits Europe – country alcohol profile
ELSA: regulation of Alcohol Marketing in Europe
WHO: Status report on alcohol and health
WHO country profiles
Tobacco control scorecard 2013
Smoke free partnership: details by country
E-cigarette intelligence – Europe and e-cigarettes
E-cigarette politics: e-cigarette laws worldwide
Institute for Global Tobacco Control: country laws regulating e-cigarettes
ecigarettedirect.co.uk – Travelling with your e-cigarette – what you need to know
World Cancer Research Fund: Nourishing Framework
WHO Global Health Observatory data repository
British Beer and Pub Association: Statistical Handbook 2015
Eurostat: GDP per capita in PPS
ESCIP: Food taxes and their impact on competitiveness in the agri-food sector