Welcome to the Nanny State

Yes, it's official – Ireland ranks at the top of the Nanny States League in the EU, behind only Finland, Sweden and the UK.

The Nanny State Index lists the 28 countries, giving their scores under e-cigs, tobacco, alcohol and food  and with scores according to laws, bans, sin taxes, restrictions and downright trampling or people's rights to enjoy perfectly legal lifestyles.

Aren't we so proud to be up there?  Those other 24 countries behind us must be spitting feathers that they don't have gubmints that bully them as much as ours?  Of course our gubmint [if we had one] would be spitting feathers that we aren't "world leaders" and doubtless would be banning e-cigs, alcohol and all food if they had half a chance.

Since being the first country to introduce a full smoking ban in 2004, Ireland has prided itself on being a pioneer of lifestyle regulation. It currently plans to bring in plain packaging for tobacco and a host of other nanny state policies for food and alcohol including minimum pricing and alcohol advertising bans. In the meantime, it can boast of the world’s highest taxes on alcohol and tobacco in the world. The only EU member states with higher taxes on alcohol are the UK and Finland.

Ireland’s tobacco tax is also sky high, only exceeded by Britain. Spirits advertising is banned on TV and radio, and tobacco advertising is banned in all its forms. The advertising of a wide range of food products is banned on children’s television and there are plans to bring in a 9pm watershed for drinks commercials.

Only vapers have so far escaped the fire of the paternalists. E-cigarettes can be bought and used without restriction.

Oh dear!  We have let the vapers get away with much too much, haven't we?  No restrictions?  Tut tut! 

Of course, being near the top of the table Ireland must have considerable benefits such as one of the lowest smoking rates and one of the lowest levels of alcohol consumption?

Er, no.  There is no relationship whatsoever.

In fact there is no correlation between the Nanny State Index and health at all.  Nada.  Zilch.  None.

Hey ho. 

Here we go again.


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Welcome to the Nanny State — 3 Comments

  1. I find it odd that Greece is ranked at number six, given that (despite the actual laws) you can smoke just about anywhere, you can buy booze anytime day or night, and pretty much anybody can sell it – cafés, bars, local shops, kiosks, uncle Tom Cobley and all. When I opened a bar here, there was no problems about getting the licence to sell alcohol apart from the usual bureaucracy that applies to any business, whatever it is. Taxes on tobacco and alcohol have risen sharply, but not as a deterrent from consumption, more because the government is broke and are raising taxes on everything they think they can get away with. Naturally, booze and fags are a soft touch on that level. Tobacco is still half the price they pay in UK (my Golden Virginia works out at €23 per 100g – from what I understand both UK and Ireland pay that much for 50g). But in terms of nanny statism, I would have put Greece way down near the bottom of that list.

    • Do I detect a touch of envy at Ireland's illustrious position?

      Taxes on alcohol and tobacco will always be popular as revenue sources as they are the ultimate "sin tax".  Argue against the and you wil be seen to be pro-vice and anti-health.  I saw a comment somewhere today saying that the nanny state was a terrible thing but he did agree that tobacco should be heavily taxed because smoking is "disgusting".  I was tempted to reply – "wait 'til they find your little pleasures, Sunshine!"

    • Nika, On one of the explanatory pages, they explain that the index is based purely on the "national legislation" position and doesn't take into account how well enforced or otherwise the legislation is, because that was much harder to quantify with certainty.  I, too, after reading many of your comments, was surprised to see Greece near the top.  But this is (I understand) an ongoing project, so maybe in a later version they'll "factor in" how strictly (or otherwise) the regulations are enforced.  They might also, I guess, include the levels of illegal produce purchased in comparison to the legal variety – if they can get an accurate number of people to admit to having "alternative sources," I guess!

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