Retailers in the Republic of Ireland are demanding that the government support them through the recession by shelving plans for a tobacco display ban, which is due to come into force this July.

The ban, which will require retailers to store tobacco in closed containers, would be hugely damaging to stores already struggling under severe regulation, said Vincent Jennings, chief executive of the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA).

The call came after a CSNA study found that newsagents were closing down at a rate of 50 a month. "The speed at which small enterprises are being driven out of business is unprecedented. It is truly a national wipeout," Jennings said.

"Failure to sustain jobs and small businesses will eviscerate the lifeblood of Ireland's domestic economy.

"There are now so many regulations either existing or incoming, from new litter by-laws to tobacco display bans and other compliance issues which will cost shop owners large amounts of money, that they neither have nor are capable of borrowing in this climate."

The ban on display would also provide a boost for the illegitimate market, he added.