Last year the World Health Organization launched a public consultation on its draft “Global Alcohol Strategy to Reduce the Harmful … Continue reading "It is not obvious that the world needs an alcohol strategy"
If, like me, you celebrated the downfall of the useless, bossy quango Public Health England, you may be unable to … Continue reading "Public health organisations fail, because they spread themselves too thinly over too many activities"
It seems unfair to call it a sweet shop. In the shopping centre north of Charlottenberg in south-western Sweden, barely … Continue reading "Norwegian sugar tax sends sweet-lovers over border to Sweden"
When the BBC reported last month that Arron Banks had given £450,000 to Nigel Farage, I tweeted ironically: “So now … Continue reading "A reply to the British Medical Journal"
Imagine if a sports journalist regularly described Sergio Agüero as a Manchester United player and insisted that West Bromwich Albion … Continue reading "On inequality, the BBC’s headline doesn’t line up with the facts"
It’s been seven years since I first published research with the IEA about state-funded activism, and five years since I last tackled … Continue reading "Still Hand in Glove? A reexamination of taxpayer-funded activism"
When I was growing up, unemployment was the great economic concern of our time. If I’d been born a little … Continue reading "Britain does not have an ‘underemployment’ problem"
Before reading this book, I viewed the phenomena of ‘snowflake’ protests and extreme political correctness on American campuses as being essentially … Continue reading "Book Review: The Coddling of the American Mind"
I ordered 200 millilitres of e-cigarette fluid from my online retailer this week. Not a large quantity – it is … Continue reading "Flawed EU regulations on e-cigarettes have set the market back"
In the latest intervention from the nanny state, MPs are now calling for tax increases on sweets and salty snacks, … Continue reading "How have we got to the stage of talking about reformulation of chocolates and puddings?"
Coca-Cola’s decision to shrink its bottles and raise its prices has raised eyebrows, but the economics of it are straightforward. In … Continue reading "Colour me surprised: effects of Sugar Tax exactly as predicted"
Today is the fifth anniversary of the introduction of plain packaging of tobacco in Australia. Don’t expect much in the … Continue reading "Plain packaging in Australia, 5 years on: We told you so"
Book Review: Labour and the Gulag: Russia and the Seduction of the British Left, by Giles Udy When was the date … Continue reading "Labour, the Gulag, and persistent denial"
Ten years ago today, George Monbiot wrote an article for the Guardian titled ‘In this age of diamond saucepans, only … Continue reading "Remember the real champions of austerity: George Monbiot and the eco-miserabilists"
In these uncertain economic times, there is no better way for a lobbyist to get politicians’ attention than by promising … Continue reading "A thought experiment: what if everyone stopped drinking, smoking and overeating?"
First published in the Netherlands in 2014 and now republished in English with a retina-burning, bright orange jacket, Rutger Bregman’s … Continue reading "Review: ‘Utopia for Realists’ by Rutger Bregman"
When George Osborne found himself having to present a list of missed economic targets in the last budget, he pulled … Continue reading "The false economy of the UK sugar levy"
Of all the attempts of NHS mandarins to blame patients for the spiralling costs of their bureaucratic leviathan, Simon Stevens’ … Continue reading "The NHS’s healthy living delusion"
The Times today leads with the news that the government’s new alcohol guidelines were drafted by neo-temperance activists from the … Continue reading "Alcohol guidelines and the state"
As a new report from the Institute of Economic Affairs explains this week, the tale we are told about inequality in … Continue reading "Is envy of the super-rich by the rest of the rich driving the inequality debate?"
Yesterday saw the publication of the first ever Nanny State Index. It looks at 32 criteria and 28 countries to … Continue reading "Britain is amongst the EU’s most meddlesome nanny states"
Stephen Bubb, chairman of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), has written an article for the Telegraph … Continue reading "It’s our money. Let us know how it’s being spent."
‘If advertising doesn’t work, why do companies spend so much money on it?’ This is the zinger that is supposed … Continue reading "Advertising: far less ‘powerful’ than you think"
The European Court of Justice has today ruled that minimum pricing for alcohol is illegal if less restrictive measures, such … Continue reading "Farewell minimum pricing, we barely knew ye"
A tax on sugar – and on sugary drinks in particular – has become a cornerstone of the campaign for … Continue reading "Taxing sugary drinks invariably hurts the poor"
‘Everybody is drunk. Those who are not singing are sprawling. The sovereign people are in a beastly state.’ So reported … Continue reading "10 years of so-called 24 hour drinking"
Does free-market capitalism foster an environment in which death and disease flourish? That is the question asked by academics Ted … Continue reading "Neoliberalism: a sick obsession"
The general secretary of the Trade Union Congress, Frances O’Grady, said last year that Britain is a country in which … Continue reading "The rich get richer and the poor get… richer."
It seems likelier than ever that the European Union will prevent Scotland and Ireland introducing minimum pricing for alcohol. The … Continue reading "Where next for minimum pricing?"
Sugar is much in the news at the moment, with the British Medical Association calling for a tax on sugary … Continue reading "Why the government shouldn’t intervene in the sugar market"
In a classic Beyond the Fringe sketch, Peter Cook is a cult leader sat atop a mountain awaiting the end … Continue reading "The death and rebirth of relative poverty figures"
Do you remember the great booze scare of 2004-05? Think back, you must recall it. The prophecies of doom about … Continue reading "The great ’24 hour drinking’ panic"
As has been widely reported in the media today, an opinion piece in the British Journal of Sports Medicine seeks … Continue reading "Physical inactivity and obesity – don’t be fooled"
It is around about this time in the electoral cycle that free market economists and libertarians start talking about their … Continue reading "The opportunity cost of explaining opportunity costs"
Barack Obama is said to have described inequality as the ‘defining challenge of our time’ and Ed Miliband has made … Continue reading "Fact check: Income and wealth inequality in Britain"
The Guardian reports today that ‘Australians are ditching cigarettes at record levels’ and says that the Australian Labour party ‘attributes … Continue reading "Tobacco sales in Australia since plain packaging"
As Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles has long taken a principled stand against what he … Continue reading "Sock puppets: a step in the right direction"
This is the second in a series of blog posts analysing the results of a ComRes opinion poll, commissioned by … Continue reading "Sin taxes, public health and public opinion (part three)"
This is the second in a series of blog posts analysing the results of a ComRes opinion poll, commissioned by … Continue reading "Sin taxes, public health and public opinion (part two)"
ComRes recently conducted an opinion poll on behalf of the IEA to gauge British attitudes towards several ‘public health’ policies. … Continue reading "Sin taxes, public health and public opinion (part one)"
Police in London have followed the lead of their counterparts in Norwich and Loughborough by forming a partnership with nightclub … Continue reading "The police should not be in the cocktail business"
One hundred years ago today, President Woodrow Wilson approved the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act, the US’s first national legislation designed … Continue reading "The war on drugs began 100 years ago today: Let’s hope it doesn’t last another century"
My report about pub closures was generally well received when it was published yesterday, with the notable exception of the … Continue reading "How not to lie with pub closure statistics"
In December 2012, the introduction of plain packaging gave the Australian government full control over the design and appearance of … Continue reading "Plain packaging – what happened next?"
A few weeks ago I found myself being filmed in a New Zealand supermarket searching for a healthy meal for … Continue reading "Healthy food is expensive – if you look at it in a certain way"
A study was published in PLoS One last year titled ‘Economic Instruments for Population Diet and Physical Activity Behaviour Change: … Continue reading "Food and soft drink taxes: the whole story"
The economist Julian Simon once wrote that ‘the economic study of advertising is not deserving of great attention’, ruefully adding … Continue reading "‘Advertising in a Free Society’ revisited"
Owen Jones’ new book, The Establishment, promises to be more than your average left-wing polemic against austerity, banksters, globalisation and … Continue reading "The Establishment by Owen Jones: A review"
Obesity prevalence has increased sharply in Britain since the 1970s. Many public health campaigners portray Britain’s obesity ‘epidemic’ as being … Continue reading "The Fat Lie – the real cause of the rise in obesity"
The Deaprtment of Health recently ran its second public consultation on plain (or ‘standardised’) packaging. This is my response on … Continue reading "IEA response to plain packaging consultation"
Recently, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation released an updated version of its Minimum Income Standard (MIS) which looks at what modern … Continue reading "The Minimum Income Standard: the wisdom of crowds?"
The e-cigarette market in Britain has the closest thing to perfect competition that you will see in the real world. … Continue reading "Why every e-cigarette user should be a free market libertarian"
A group of charities and campaign groups have written a letter to The Times complaining about what they regard as … Continue reading "Where does the state end and civil society begin?"
The US Food and Drug Administration is considering making a calculation of the pleasure that people get from using e-cigarettes … Continue reading "It’s not a cost-benefit analysis without the benefits"
Alcohol policy in Britain and many other countries aims to reduce per capita alcohol consumption in the belief that this … Continue reading "Punishing the drinking majority"
The Economist has put a nice little chart together based on the latest World Health Organisation report on alcohol. It … Continue reading "Britain, more sober than you thought"
Much of the moral panic about gambling in recent years has centred on the claim that the number of problem … Continue reading "New data show no rise in problem gambling since 1999"
The latest installment of the plain packaging saga is expected to arrive before the end of the month. After the … Continue reading "Plain packaging review must look at all the evidence"
On Sunday, the Observer reported that ‘Inequality costs Britain £39bn a year’. This is based on the belief that ‘a … Continue reading "The Spirit Level and the imaginary £39 billion (part 1)"
Today’s budget was another curate’s egg from the perspective of lifestyle liberty. The decision to scrap the alcohol duty escalator … Continue reading "Budget reaction: drinking, gambling and smoking"
The authors of the report that claims that inequality costs the UK £39 billion a year (see yesterday’s post) say … Continue reading "The Spirit Level and the imaginary £39 billion (part 2)"
On Sunday, the Observer reported that ‘Inequality “costs Britain £39bn a year’. This is based on the belief that ‘a … Continue reading "The Spirit Level and the imaginary £39 billion (part 1)"
The recent suggestion by the chief medical officer Sally Davies that ‘we may need to introduce a sugar tax’ is … Continue reading "Resist temptation: a sugar tax won’t make us healthy"
As reported in The Guardian and elsewhere, the Alcohol Health Alliance has issued a press release in response to the … Continue reading "Fact checking the Alcohol Health Alliance"
The following letter has been written in response to ‘Under the influence’, an article by Jonathan Gornall which appeared in … Continue reading "Minimum alcohol pricing: a response to the British Medical Journal"
The French think tank Institut économique Molinari has recently published a clear and well-referenced report that looks at the false … Continue reading "The perils and pitfalls of sin taxes"
In June 2012, the IEA published Sock Puppets, a report which looked at the evidence, and implications, of taxpayer funding … Continue reading "What can be done about state-funded activism?"
Ed Miliband’s pledge to crack down on the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’ is a significant moment in the extraordinary moral panic … Continue reading "Rushing to judgement on the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’"
First, the good news. Poverty has been on the decline for several years. Since 2007, the proportion of the British … Continue reading "To properly tackle poverty, we must look at the cost of living"
The poorest twenty per cent of households in Britain spend an average of £1,286 per year on ‘sin taxes’, including … Continue reading "The consumption taxes that keep people poor"
Estimates of rates of problem gambling in Britain primarily come from three British Gambling Prevalence Surveys published by the Gambling … Continue reading "No evidence of a rise in problem gambling in Scotland"
Many ‘public health’ policies aimed at reducing harmful alcohol use, such as minimum pricing, are underpinned by a belief in … Continue reading "Drinking, heavy drinking and total consumption"
Jamie Whyte’s superb new book Quack Policy, published by the IEA last week, has provoked some controversy on Twitter. The publication … Continue reading "The Bluff of Evidence-Based Policy"
Jamie Whyte’s superb new book Quack Policy, published by the IEA this week, casts a sceptical eye over recent examples … Continue reading "The bluff of ‘evidence-based policy’"
A register of lobbyists would be an expensive bureaucratic folly that would serve no useful purpose. There may be a … Continue reading "The folly of the lobbying register"
In 2010, a piece of research was published by Policy Exchange, a think tank, which managed to lodge one “fact” … Continue reading "Smoking breaks and lost productivity"
So it’s official. Neither the UK government nor the European Parliament will be legislating to put tobacco in plain packaging. … Continue reading "Goodbye plain packaging, or is it au revoir?"
Are free markets incompatible with good health? To hear some of the rhetoric that comes from the medical establishment, you … Continue reading "Free market solutions in health should be allowed to flourish"
Earlier this year, the Work Foundation published a study of inequality in Britain that threw up some uncomfortable findings for … Continue reading "The Spirit Level – how does it measure up where it matters?"
It is brave for a lobby group that has a long track record of using dodgy surveys, junk science and … Continue reading "Alcohol Concern sticks to the ideology"
Plain packaging for tobacco appears to have been rejected by the UK’s Coalition government, just as it was rejected by … Continue reading "Ireland, plain packaging and cognitive dissonance"
The negative consequences of putting ‘sin taxes’ on products when demand is inelastic are well known. Almost invariably, they hurt … Continue reading "Denmark’s fat tax disaster – the proof of the pudding"
This morning I was on the radio discussing electronic cigarettes in response to a headteacher banning their use at Blatchington … Continue reading "E-cigarettes and the gateway hypothesis"
Last year, the IEA published Sock Puppets, a report that examined the British government’s extensive funding of charities and pressure … Continue reading "European Commission using taxpayers’ money to fund groups that lobby for larger EU budgets and more EU regulation"
An editorial published in the British Medical Journal today calls for ‘a complete ban on alcohol advertising and sponsorship’. The authors … Continue reading "A total ban on alcohol advertising – the next logical step?"
In The Guardian this week, Zoe Williams laments the charity sector’s failure to speak out against government policy. She attributes … Continue reading "The myth of sock puppet independence"
A curious little idea was reported by the BBC and the Telegraph this week, when two academics from Bath University … Continue reading "The anti-smoking smash and grab"
Are the British developing a taste for smuggled booze and moonshine? There was a five-fold increase in the number of … Continue reading "Less affordable alcohol will push drinkers towards the black market"
The question of whether the government should be funding pressure groups is one that faces politicians across the developed world. … Continue reading "A new approach to state-funded pressure groups"
The pressure group Hope Not Hate is celebrating the news that the British National Party will be denied €100,000 of … Continue reading "State funding should be withdrawn from all political activists"
They say that laws are like sausages, it is better not to see how they are made. If so, the … Continue reading "The Government ought to rouse our sleeping casinos"
The early findings of the Office for National Statistics’ much-discussed survey of national well-being have confirmed what anybody who is familiar … Continue reading "ONS releases first results of happiness survey"
He didn’t mention the book by name. He didn’t need to. When Ed Miliband used his first speech as Labour … Continue reading "Ed Miliband’s equality delusion"