05:38 GMT +319 November 2019
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    Mama Don't Allow: Finland, Sweden EU's Worst "Nanny States"

    © AFP 2019 / OLIVIER MORIN
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    Finland and Sweden are the worst countries in the European Union to eat, drink, smoke and vape, as rated in the first edition of the Nanny State Index published by the Institute of Economic Affairs, a London-based think tank promoting free market economics, claimed last week.

    The United Kingdom and Ireland ranked third and fourth respectively, owing to excessive regulation and punitive "sin taxes," whereas the Czech Republic and Germany, on the contrary, were ranked as the most liberal countries in the European Union.

    The 2016 Nanny State Index, published last week by the Institute of Economic Affairs and the European Policy Information Centre (EPICENTER), gives every EU country a score out of 100, according to how it regulates its citizens' private lifestyle choices. Finland and Sweden scored 53.7 and 40.6, in a stark comparison with the Czech Republic's and Germany's performance of 9 and 8.8 points respectively.

    The Institute of Economic Affairs highlights in its country report that Finland received high scores across the criteria due to its paternalistic regulatory approach:

    "Finland has a range of food and drink taxes, an effective ban on e-cigarette sales and extremely high taxes on beer, wine and spirits."

    Above all, Finland has also been identified as having the EU's highest beer tax, the second highest spirits tax, and the third highest wine tax.

    Together with the neighbor country Sweden, Finland is one of only two EU countries to have a state monopoly on alcohol sales, with discount promotions such as happy hour being banned altogether.

    Sweden, which has a formidable reputation for paternalism, has the highest spirits duty in the EU and one of the highest rates of beer and wine duty. In recent decades, Sweden has nonetheless witnessed some liberalization, reflected, among other things, by a fivefold increase in the number of restaurants serving alcohol, as well as longer opening hours.

    The Institute of Economic Affairs points out that although paternalistic regulations are usually justified on health grounds, government interference does not necessarily correlate with higher life expectancy.

    "Countries with heavy regulation of alcohol do not have lower rates of drinking, and countries with heavy regulation of tobacco do not have lower rates of smoking," it says.

    "Unless you are a teetotal, non-smoking vegetarian, my advice is to go to Germany or the Czech Republic this summer," Christopher Snowdon, Head of Lifestyle Economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, was quoted as saying.

    Tags:
    smoking, alcohol, nanny state, Czech Republic, Germany, Scandinavia, Finland, Sweden
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