10 Things Banned in Other Countries, but Legal in the U.S.
1. Baby walkers
Babies in Canada have to learn to walk the old-fashioned way. The country banned once-popular baby walkers in 2004, after they were found to endanger babies and delay motor and mental development. Possession or selling of a baby walker can result in fines of up to $100,000 or six months in jail.
2. Ketchup in school cafeterias
A school cafeteria without ketchup? It's un-American! In 2011, France banned the tomato condiment from school cafeterias in order to preserve French cuisine. The one ironic exception: Students can still eat ketchup on French fries.
3. Incandescent light bulbs
Phasing out incandescent light bulbs isn't as easy as flipping a switch. But other countries are ahead of the U.S. on this one. Cuba was the first to the finish line when it brought in CFLs and banned the sale and import of the old-school bulbs in 2005. Argentina followed suit in 2010, and EU member countries reached the final stage of a three-year phase-out in 2012.
In America, it's your right to have whatever terrible hairstyle you want. Not so in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2010, the Ministry of Culture banned several "decadent" Western men's hairstyles, including the mullet, spikes, and ponytails. Hairdon'ts are punishable by fine.
5. Plastic bags
Bangladesh started a trend in 2002 when it became the first country to ban plastic bags. Bag bans have caught on all over the world, from France to Tanzania to Mexico City. (Here's a map.) San Francisco was the first U.S. city to ban plastic bags in 2007, and Los Angeles followed suit in in 2013. This July, the entire state of California will begin phasing out the shopping bags, thanks to a bill signed into law in September by Governor Jerry Brown.
School corporal punishment is still allowed in 19 U.S. states. But in some countries, parents can't even spank their kids. Sweden was the first to ban the belt and paddle in 1979. Now moms and dads in 46 countries rely solely on the time-out.
7. BHA and BHT preservatives
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) aren't just hard to pronounce. They're carcinogenic ... and found in almost all packaged foods in the U.S. Human consumption of BHA and BHT is banned in more than 160 countries.
8. Chewing gum
While the actual act of chewing gum was never illegal, Singapore burst gum lovers' bubbles when it outlawed the importation and sale of Bazooka Joe and the like in 1992. The ban stuck, but was slightly changed in 2004. Singaporans interested in the oral health benefits of sugar-free gum can now get a prescription — but still face stiff penalties if they're caught littering with it.
9. Weird baby names
What's in a baby name? Legislation in Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, and many other countries. If Danish parents don't choose one of the 7000 government-approved names for their bundle of joy, they're required to get church approval. New Zealand and Sweden add to their lists of banned baby names each year. The names "V8" and "Superman," respectively, weren't allowed, but "Violence" and "Google" were.
A 2006 Business Week survey named Bhutan not only the happiest country in Asia, but also the eighth happiest country in the world. Four years later, the Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan aimed to increase Gross National Happiness by banning the cultivation, harvesting, production, and sale of harmful tobacco products. But here's a happy loophole for smokers: Tobacco consumption is still legal.