Today sees the publication of the Nanny State Index, now in its fourth version. Launched in 2016, it seems to be on the over-regulation of meals, smooth drinks, vaping, tobacco and alcohol in thirty European nations. Since the final version was printed in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has led governments world wide to impose coercive controls on an almost unprecedented scale.
The index doesn’t embrace anti-Covid insurance policies which are anticipated to be a genuinely non permanent response to the pandemic, however the outlook is bleak nonetheless. Almost with out exception, governments throughout Europe are adopting greater sin taxes and extra prohibitions.
Norway tops the league desk, though that might change as soon as it legalises e-cigarettes. Lithuania, with its heavy temperance laws, is once more in second place whereas Finland drops to 3rd. The high of the desk is dominated by Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. Greece is the one nation from southern Europe within the high half, largely due to its very excessive sin taxes on alcohol and tobacco. At the extra liberal finish of the desk, one of the best nations are a blended bag. Germany has carried out the extraordinary feat of getting the bottom rating in all 4 classes of the index.
Hovering above it we discover the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Spain and Italy, all of which have achieved effectively in earlier editions. Denmark is simply above this group and is the one Scandinavian nation not within the high ten. That appears more likely to change sooner or later, nonetheless. Like the Netherlands, Denmark has a slew of hardcore nanny state insurance policies within the pipeline.
Twelve nations now have taxes on sugary drinks, starting from €.05 per liter in Hungary to €.30 in Ireland. Several nations additionally tax artificially sweetened drinks. And 13 nations tax e-cigarette fluid (up from eleven in 2019), with tax charges starting from €.06 per ml in Hungary to €.30 in Finland and Portugal.
Germany is now the one nation within the EU that may very well be described as smoker-friendly. Previous contenders Austria and the Czech Republic have each launched draconian smoking bans lately. The variety of vaper-friendly nations can be dwindling. Seventeen of the thirty nations within the index have made it unlawful to make use of an e-cigarette wherever smoking is prohibited. Sixteen nations have a complete or near-total ban on e-cigarette promoting.
Many within the ‘public health’ institution will see this as progress, however what has it achieved? The most nannying nations on the high of the desk don’t have longer life expectations, decrease smoking charges, much less weight problems or fewer alcohol-related deaths than those on the backside. Efforts to stamp out vaping can barely be described as paternalist in any respect since they’ve the unintended consequence of encouraging smoking.
Alas, that isn’t the one unintended consequence of those insurance policies. Sin taxes elevate the price of living and damage the poor. High costs gasoline the black market and result in corruption. Advertising bans prohibit competitors and stifle innovation. Smoking and vaping bans trigger severe injury to the hospitality trade. Excessive regulation creates extreme forms and drains police assets.
Despite all of the downsides, the story of the Nanny State Index is one in all consistently increasing huge authorities trampling freedom. Occasionally a authorities will grudgingly cut back taxes on alcohol or e-cigarette fluid in response to a surge in cross-border buying or black market exercise. Once shortly, a politician will water down their plans to ban smoking open air or introduce a sugar tax. Now and once more, the courts will rule some nanny state initiative to be unconstitutional. But such small victories are uncommon. All the momentum is with the paternalists of ‘public health’.
The blame for this lies overwhelmingly with home governments, not with the European Union. The EU banned menthol cigarettes in May 2020, however it can’t be held liable for regressive taxation, draconian smoking bans and extreme regulation of alcohol and meals. The gulf between the freest nations on the backside of the desk and the least liberal nations on the high is almost completely the results of choices made by their very own governments.
As the world progressively recovers from the pandemic, it’s essential that each one liberties are restored. Wouldn’t it’s good if just a few different freedoms that have been taken with no consideration till just lately may very well be even be returned to us?