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).
Despite is reputation as being one of the world’s most liberal countries, the Netherlands has taken an increasingly paternalistic view of lifestyle choices in recent years. A ban on smoking was introduced 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. Cigarettes can be bought from vending machines and can be displayed in shops.
Taxes on beer and spirits are neither high nor low by European standards, but there is a tax on wine. Alcohol advertising can only be broadcast after 9pm and a ban on happy hours was introduced in 2014.
E-cigarettes are legal to buy and use. A ban on e-cigarette advertising was overturned in 2012.