A Conservative peer has called for the regulation behind the ban of the display of tobacco products to be annulled.

Earl Howe, shadow Minister for Health and a potential candidate for ministerial office after the election, has formally objected to the Statutory Instrument Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display) (England) Regulations 2010, which will now be subject to a debate in the House of Lords after the election to decide if they should stand as they are or be rejected.

Earl Howe is a long-term opponent of the ban and has expressed concerns for the small stores which will have to pay for structural alterations required when it becomes law in 2013.

He has also questioned the evidence used to justify the ban. In a debate last year, he said that the conclusion that youngsters are influenced by product displays and are more likely to become smokers as a result was based on "simplistic research".

"It in no way justifies the creation of a new criminal offence for displaying cigarettes which in any case cannot be sold to persons under 18," he said.