ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) Scotland is calling on the public to write to their local shop if they are in favour of the removal of tobacco displays.

The lobby group has launched a campaign urging the public to ask retailers to support new rules that would ban cigarettes from what it calls “pride of place in our shops”.

Chief executive Sheila Duffy said a display ban would not affect footfall as “existing tobacco displays aren’t visible from outside the shop”.

In a sample letter, ASH suggests customers tell retailers that “retail display of tobacco is known to be one of the factors that can lead some young people to becoming smokers”.

It adds: “With smoking rates in decline in this country, this could be a great opportunity for retailers to prepare for a much healthier future.”

Fiona Barrett of the Tobacco Retailers Alliance said: “ASH Scotland, which receives nearly £1m of taxpayers’ money a year, has no remit to orchestrate a bullying campaign against small businesses.”