Welcome to the second 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).
Download the pdf here.
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).
Spain is one of the best places in the EU to be a drinker.
Taxes on beer and spirits are among the lowest in the EU, there is no wine duty, and there is no statutory closing time for bars. Alcohol advertising is legal in all media with the exception of spirits which cannot be advertised on television or in places where alcohol consumption is not permitted. Some local councils have banned happy hours and/or bulk buys but there are no national prohibitions on either.
Life is not so good for consumers of nicotine. Traditionally a smoker-friendly country, Spain now has a total ban on smoking in all bars, restaurants and workplaces. Sadly, this legislation also prohibits the use of e-cigarettes. Smoking is banned in a few outdoor areas as well, including schools, hospitals and playgrounds. In April 2016, the Basque Country Parliament banned smoking and drinking in sports stadia.
After years of economic misery in Spain, sin taxes are on the rise. Effective taxes on alcohol currently equal 40 per cent of what the consumer pays, while tobacco taxes amount to 80 per cent of the final price. Tax on spirits rose by five per cent in 2017. In December 2016, the Spanish government announced that it would be introducing a tax on soft drinks to help reduce the national deficit but the government later shelved the idea because it did not want to hurt the working class.
With thanks to Diego Sánchez de la Cruz at Foro de Regulación Inteligente