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).
Like several countries in Eastern Europe, Poland takes a tough line on wine and spirits advertising. It is banned entirely on television, radio and outdoors. Beer can only be advertised after 8pm. There is a ban on alcohol consumption in some streets, squares and parks.
Poland has a near-total ban on tobacco advertising and a full ban on cigarette vending machines, but no display ban and no graphic warnings. It has a severe, but not total, ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and workplaces. There is also a ban on alcohol consumption in streets, squares and parks, as well as some restrictions on where alcohol can be sold set at the local level (eg. around churches and schools).
In September 2015 new restrictions on what can be sold in school shops and served in school canteens were introduced, leading to the closure of some shops. It also led to many absurdities such as preventing schools from selling water in large bottles. Thanks to the new limits on salt and sugar in canteens children sometimes do not want to eat their meals (or they bring their own salt and sugar from home). There were even cases where students were bringing illegal sweets and snacks to schools and selling them to other students in a small black market. The law is now being reviewed.
E-cigarettes can be used anywhere and are legal to buy and advertise.