Pressure on the government to announce an immediate delay in the implementation of the tobacco display ban in England has been cranked up another notch.

Earlier this week the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and the British Retail Consortium wrote to ministers demanding that they put the brakes on the plans set to come into force in eight months' time, despite a lack of compliance details.

"It is unfair and irresponsible of ministers to continue the uncertainty. They must announce a delay to the implementation of the ban, and do so immediately," ACS public affairs director Shane Brennan said.

Independent retailer and spokesman for the Tobacco Retailers Alliance Ken Patel said it was deeply unfair of the government to leave retailers in limbo. "This gimmicky policy would place a significant burden on small businesses, and we need to know what the government intends to do."

Retailers are awaiting the release of the government's new Tobacco Control Strategy, outlining plans to reduce UK smoking rates. It is thought that plain packaging for tobacco could be among the proposals.