James explains why your help is crucial in a last push for a fair deal on tobacco retailing

It was Easter 2008 when we first heard the government announce plans to ban tobacco display. In more than two years of campaigning since then, we've been doing research, countering claims about the (in our view non-existent) health benefits of this policy, arguing our case to MPs, and asking for retailers to help every step of the way.

We were therefore a little reluctant to ask for your support again with our latest Stop the Tobacco Display Ban campaign. But I have to say I've been delighted by the support shown by retailers, and I hope that you will not just contact the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to show your opposition to the ban, but also campaign locally to get other retailers involved.

Be absolutely clear that those who advocate a display ban are mobilising their supporters this summer, too. The government will be receiving a message from them that the display ban is justified and should go ahead. C-stores have to counter this by explaining the impact on our businesses.

The timing is absolutely critical. We know that the government is yet to make up its mind, so if you don't get this point across now, you may not get another opportunity.

Postcard campaigns aren't our usual way of working as we tend to focus on lobbying behind the scenes and developing the arguments that nine times out of 10 are the key factor in whether we win or lose on an issue.

The tobacco display ban is, unusually, a very clear case with a very simple argument, so we really think this approach is the right one.

It won't take a moment to complete and send your postcard to the Health Secretary. Please take the time to support your business and your retailer colleagues.

Convenience Store readers will receive a postcard inside the September 3 issue.