This report looks critically at the nanny state debate. It has been produced under the coordination of Dr Farhang Tahzib, Chair of the Public Health Ethics Special Interest Group of the UK Faculty of Public Health. It is intended as a resource for members of the public health community whose own reflections or practice are affected by nanny state concerns, and for other readers who may be interested in the ethical legitimacy of public health practice and policy. The nanny state is a frequent point of reference in academic, public, and political debates on public health policy. As with many political slurs, it refers at once both to valid and invalid concerns. It reduces these to hard-hitting and often logically-incoherent rhetoric; rhetoric that obscures meaningful discussion and obstructs pathways (whatever one’s political leanings) to a fairer, healthier society.