The second annual Nanny State Index 2017 has been released and despite what felt like a red-letter year for bans and regulations—including the nationwide smoke out set to take place at the end of this month—the country still remains the “freest” place in the EU for smoking, drinking, and consuming junk food.
Compiled by the UK’s Institute of Economic Affairs and the European Policy Information Centre (EPICENTER), the data examines the personal freedom of EU citizens by analyzing government regulations in four key categories: tobacco, food, alcohol, and e-cigarettes.
Countries with higher scores are less free and countries with lower scores are freer.
Of the 28 countries shown on the table, the Czech Republic once again came in at lowest end of the spectrum with some of the least restrictive public health regulations on the continent.
According to researchers:
“The Czech Republic’s reputation as a haven of liberty in the EU is confirmed by the Nanny State Index. There are no national restrictions on when bars and restaurants can stop serving alcohol. E-cigarettes can be advertised, sold and used indoors. Alcohol advertising is largely unrestricted except in some outdoor areas (eg. outside schools) and taxes are low.”
Other areas in which the Czech Republic encourages the indulgence of vice:
“Per capita beer consumption is higher in the Czech Republic than anywhere in the world and its beer tax is among the lowest in the EU. Tax on spirits is relatively low and there is no wine duty at all.”
It was noted, however, that one pillar of Czech tolerance is about to fall.
“At the time of writing, owners of bars and restaurants can decide whether to permit smoking. A ban on smoking in restaurants was rejected by parliament in May 2016, but an extensive smoking ban was signed off by the president in February 2017 and is due to be enforced from May 31st 2017.”
The report goes on to decry the outlook for lifestyle freedom as generally bleak with a number of countries seeking to join Hungary, Finland, and France in putting a sin tax on sugary drinks, and Austria, Germany, and Slovakia as the last truly smoker-friendly countries in the EU.
Finland, the UK, and Ireland were determined to be the least free nations.
See the rankings from the 2016 Index here.