Mark Prisk's speech at the ACS Heart of the Community seminar did little to reassure retailers that a Conservative government would throw out legislation to ban the display of tobacco products in stores.

Most Conservative MPs opposed the display ban in the recent parliamentary vote on the grounds that evidence to show that it would reduce youth smoking was weak.

However, Prisk would commit only to reviewing the legislation "well in time" before the planned enforcement in supermarkets from 2011 and in smaller stores from 2013.

The party would need to gather much more evidence on the display ban and its impact, a process which would involve several government departments, he revealed.

"We will review the legislation, but we can't ignore the fact that we also have to help reduce underage smoking," he said.

"However, on a personal note, the idea that young people are swayed by displays is a nonsense which beggars belief," Prisk added.