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).
Portugal is gradually moving towards a full ban on smoking in indoor public places. At the moment, it is generally forbidden to smoke in cafes, restaurants, bars and nightclubs of less than 100 square metres, but the owner may choose to provide separate smoking areas of up to 30 per cent of floor space, or in a physically separated smoking rooms of up to 40 per cent of floor space. Smokers who flout the law can be fined up to €750 and establishments which permit illegal smoking can be fined up to €250,000. A more draconian ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces is expected to come into in force in 2021.
Vapers have been clobbered by the nanny state in Portugal recently. As of January 2017, vaping is banned wherever smoking is banned and e-cigarette fluid is subject to a tax of €0.60 per millilitre, the highest rate in Europe.
Alcohol can only be advertised on TV and radio after 7pm, but drinks marketing is otherwise unrestricted. Alcohol can be sold in shops between 8.00am and midnight and there are no restrictions on opening hours in bars and restaurants. Taxes on beer and spirits are about average for the EU and there is no wine duty. Tobacco can only be promoted at point of sale but there is no display ban and no vending machine ban.
Drinkers of soft drinks will also soon be hit. Portugal plans to introduce a tax on soft drinks in 2017 that is estimated to increase the price of a 1.5 litre bottle by 15-30 cents. As in France, the tax will be levied on soft drinks regardless of whether they contain sugar or not.