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).
The Czech Republic’s reputation as a haven of liberty in the EU is confirmed by the Nanny State Index. There are no national restrictions on when bars and restaurants can stop serving alcohol. E-cigarettes can be advertised, sold and used indoors. Alcohol advertising is largely unrestricted except in some outdoor areas (eg. outside schools) and taxes are low.
Per capita beer consumption is higher in the Czech Republic than anywhere in the world and its beer tax is among the lowest in the EU. In February 2016, the finance minister made a pledge – which has yet to be realised – to halve VAT on draft beer. Tax on spirits is relatively low and there is no wine duty at all.
Tobacco taxes are the second lowest in the EU. Cigarettes can be displayed in shops and bought from vending machines. E-cigarettes can be advertised, purchased and used anywhere.
One pillar of Czech tolerance is about to fall, however.
At the time of writing, owners of bars and restaurants can decide whether to permit smoking. A ban on smoking in restaurants was rejected by parliament in May 2016, but an extensive smoking ban was signed off by the president in February 2017 and is due to be enforced from May 31st 2017.