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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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).

Slovakia 2017

Slovakia has relatively low tax rates on alcohol and tobacco and allows owners of bars and restaurants to accommodate smokers in separate sections. Cigarettes cannot be bought from machines but there is no display ban. There are no restrictions on where and when alcohol can be advertised.

Although Slovakia’s approach to social freedoms is generally sound, it is not perfect. Smoking is only partially banned indoors, but vaping is prohibited wherever smoking is banned. E-cigarette advertising and sponsorship is banned. So too are cross-border sales. Slovakia is also one of only four EU member states where it is illegal to drink any quantity of alcohol before driving. Until January 2017, this zero tolerance approach also applied to cyclists on cycle lanes but the law has now been changed to allow cyclists to consume one pint of beer (ie. the blood alcohol concentration limit has been raised to 0.05%).

According to E-Cigarette Intelligence: ‘In May 2017, the Slovak Republic will introduce a specific tax of €73.90 per kg of “smokeless tobacco”, a new category of tobacco excluding chewing tobacco and snuff, which are consumed without burning.’

With thanks to David Stancel, Students for Liberty Slovakia