Curbing unfavourable behaviour with a heavy hand

If you can’t persuade them, force them.

More countries around the world are clamping down, or rather, jacking up taxes on everything from tobacco to alcohol.

Findland, always at the forefront of such battle, not content with its attempts at curbing binge drinking, now wants to “eliminate” smoking in the next 30 years.  It’s doing so by basically hiding cigarettes from those under 18.

    • By the spring, smokers in Finland will only be able to buy tobacco by asking for cigarettes from under the counter.
    • Tobacco vending machines are also being phased out over the next three years.
    • It will be illegal to smoke in a car carrying passengers under the age of 18.

In Russia, a similar crusade is on to halve drinking in the next 10 years.

In the UK, concerns over Britons’ binge drinking habits have resulted in talks of price floors for cheap liquor.  Both the medical association and the police want to see more expensive drinks to curb anti-social behaviours brought on by drinking, as the price of booze relative to income has declined 70% since the 1980s.

In the past 50 years Britons’ consumption of alcohol has more than doubled, though it remains somewhat lower than it was at the start of the 20th century. British livers are feeling the strain: cases of cirrhosis are on the increase, just as they are declining elsewhere in Europe.

And in Romania, a “fat tax” is due to be introduced to counter the obesity trend.  Once again, such tax will kill two birds with one stone:

The Romanian Health Ministry has outlined plans to levy an extra charge on fatty, salty and sugary foods; a move that will tackle two problems simultaneously — the poor quality of its citizens’ diets and a plunging public-sector budget as a result of the recession.

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