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).
Spain is the best place 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.
Traditionally a smoker-friendly country, Spain now has a total ban on smoking in all bars, restaurants and workplaces which includes e-cigarette use. Smoking is also banned in some outdoor areas, including schools, hospitals and playgrounds. Cigarette vending machines are currently legal. E-cigarette advertising is legal but radio and TV commercials cannot be broadcast until 8pm.