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).
The Netherlands’ reputation as one of the world’s most liberal countries is reflected in the Nanny State Index where it has the fifth lowest score. The Dutch have become increasingly paternalistic in recent years, however. A ban on smoking was introduced in 2008 but was overturned for small bars in 2010 before being reintroduced in 2014. The current situation leaves smoking banned in the vast majority of indoor venues, although there is an exemption for marijuana, and some smoking rooms are permitted.
Alcohol advertising can only be broadcast after 9pm and a ban on happy hours was introduced in 2014. Taxes on alcohol and tobacco are not very high in the Netherlands, but nor are they particularly low.
In general, however, the picture remains broadly positive. There is a political consensus against using taxation in an attempt to change people’s diets in the Netherlands and although there have been discussions in parliament about introducing a tobacco display ban, cigarettes can be still be displayed in shops and bought from vending machines.
E-cigarettes are legal to buy and use. A ban on e-cigarette advertising was overturned in 2012 and cross-border sales of vaping products are still legal.
With thanks to the Dutch Libertarian Party