Norway’s new minister in charge of public health said this week that adults did not need government lectures about what to put in their bodies, but it sounded a bit like she was telling people to go ahead and indulge. Critics protested that her remarks were damaging, particularly coming from someone in her position.

“I think people should be allowed to smoke, drink and eat as much red meat as they like,” Sylvi Listhaug, the government’s minister for the elderly and public health, said in an interview posted on Monday on the website of NRK, Norway’s state broadcaster. “The government may provide information, but I think people in general know what is healthy and what is not.”…

“I fear that this will set public health efforts back for decades, and that this will compromise the general understanding among Norwegians of the health consequences of tobacco and alcohol use,” Anne Lise Ryel, secretary general of Norway’s Cancer Society, said in a statement.