Taxation and regulation of smoking, drinking and gambling in the European Union
Electronic gaming machines are the crack cocaine of gambling. Consumer sovereignty, on the other hand, indicates that people should be allowed to smoke as long as they do not harm others. There is sound medical evidence, furthermore, that a drink each day keeps the doctor away, while recreational gambling can be an enjoyable form of entertainment for many people.
These and other salient facts about the harmful and positive effects of smoking, drinking and gambling provide the background for a dispassionate economic analysis of the taxation and regulation of these activities. The main message the studies convey is that it would be unrealistic to rely solely on duty levels and differentiation to curb abusive use. Duty levels do have a clear impact in restraining consumption by children and young adults - an important priority for policy. But complementary policies - including direct regulation and provision of information - also have a meaningful role to play in each of the markets for tobacco, alcohol and gambling.