How much do EU governments interfere in the lives of their citizens?
The 2016 Nanny State Index, released today by the UK’s Institute of Economic Affairs and the European Policy Information Centre (EPICENTER), examines the personal freedom of EU citizens.
The inaugural edition of the study rates the 28 EU countries according to government regulations in four key categories: tobacco, food, alcohol, and e-cigarettes.
Put more simply, it’s a “table of the worst places in the European Union to eat, drink, smoke and vape.”
The worst countries to indulge? Finland, Sweden, the UK, Ireland, Hungary, Greece, and Lithuania rank among the EU’s least free countries.
Then there’s the EU’s freest country: the Czech Republic, which ranks at or near the bottom of every category to obtain the lowest Nanny State Index score:
The Czech Republic, along with 10 other EU countries, does not currently have any regulations on e-cigarettes. Greece and Belgium, with advertising regulations and indoor vaping bans, rate as the strictest countries to vape.
Similarly, nearly half of EU countries don’t regulate food and drink, which the study examines through taxes and laws on vending machines, energy drinks, advertising, and mandatory limits. Hungary, surprisingly, ranks as the EU’s least free country for food and drink.
While the Czech Republic does have some regulations on tobacco, the country easily rates as the most lenient place to smoke.
It’s also one of the cheapest: only Luxembourg has lower cigarette taxes.
Perhaps surprisingly, it’s the alcohol category where the Czech Republic doesn’t rank as the absolute lowest: Portugal, Germany, and Spain all feature slightly more lenient regulations on alcohol taxation and advertising.
Still, the Czech Republic’s overall score is low enough to squeeze by Germany and rank as the EU’s least invasive, and most free, country.