New equipment to screen tobacco displays from view could cost the convenience store industry as much as £252m.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) estimates that the minimum a single store could expect to pay is £1,850 if the proposed legislation is enforced. This figure could rise to as much as £4,985 for some stores.

The estimates do not take into account any loss of trade that could be experienced during the refurbishments.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: "What we have found is that changing tobacco displays will bring significant costs to convenience stores. As the picture becomes clearer about what the likely harm to business will be, we have still not seen convincing evidence that a ban would have the desired effect on underage smoking. Evidence from other countries which have display bans, such as Iceland and some Canadian states, is not conclusive, and in some cases shows an increase in smoking rates among young people."

The Department of Health is launching a three-month consultation into point of sale display restrictions this month.

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