The role of information in 'pushing and shoving' consumers of tobacco and alcohol to make healthy lifestyle choices

Geraint HOWELLS, Jonathon WATSON

Research output: Other contributionpeer-review


Information has been perceived as a key tool facilitating consumers to make healthy lifestyle choices when buying and consuming products. Indeed the European Commission places great faith in the ability of consumers armed with information to make changes in their lifestyle choices for the benefit of themselves and society: ‘Empowered and informed consumers can more easily make changes in lifestyle and consumption patterns contributing to the improvement of their health, more sustainable lifestyles and a low carbon economy.’ This chapter focuses on the EU’s labelling policies in the areas of tobacco and alcohol whilst drawing on other jurisdictions’ experiences. Policy in this area is controversial because important interests are affected. The tobacco and alcohol industries are major sectors of the economy and consumption of these products is widespread across the European Union. The impact of lobbying, both by industry and by public health groups, on policy formulation should not be underestimated, and in the tobacco field in particular lobbying has become very well organized. The high level of polarization around the issue of lifestyle intervention is particularly problematic, but perhaps not unexpected, as these policies go deep into the DNA of society. They affect the everyday life of citizens and their health, and yet touch on sensitivities concerning the extent to which the state should intervene in citizens’ private lifestyle choices. he modern state is expected to be concerned with public health; and the subjects of tobacco and alcohol now feature explicitly in the Treaty (Art. 168(5) TFEU) as such modern-day concerns, together with consumer protection (Art. 169 TFEU). Nonetheless, tobacco and alcohol policies can give rise to criticisms about the ‘nanny state’ if such policies are perceived as an excessive interference in the lives of citizens and their lifestyle choices.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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