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 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."
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.
"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.