Sunday 26 March 2023

Coalition parties criticise ‘nanny state plans’ for smoking and drinking


Three of the four coalition parties do not fully support junior health minister Paul Blokhuis’ plans to clamp down on smoking, obesity and alcohol abuse, sources have told broadcaster RTL Nieuws.

Blokhuis, a minister on behalf of the strict Protestant party ChristenUnie, wants to put up the price of cigarettes to €10 a pack, stop shops from offering cut-price alcohol and cut the price of sugar-free soft drinks, the broadcaster said.

But when the minister wanted to outline his plans at a recent cabinet meeting, he was stopped and told to first make sure he has sufficient support among MPs, RTL reported on Thursday.

The minister said in February that a government drive to improve health would include measures to combat alcohol abuse alongside smoking and obesity. All three, he says, are highly detrimental to health, cause premature deaths and are associated with problems such as poverty and debt.

Nanny state

However, the three other coalition parties – the VVD, D66 and the Christian Democrats – say Blokhuis’ plans are too symptomatic of the ‘nanny state’, in particular his approach to alcohol.

‘The junior minister is now homing in on everyone who enjoys a glass, and that should not be the aim,’ one insider told the broadcaster.

The parties are also concerned about his plans to put up the price of cigarettes. In particular, the CDA is worried about small shopkeepers who are only just surviving and will be hard hit if the sale of tobacco products collapses, RTL said.

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