Retail lobby groups are collecting evidence from overseas in a bid to persuade the next government to overturn the ban on display of tobacco products.

The Tobacco Retailers Alliance (TRA) is gathering evidence from Ireland and Canada where, in the months following display bans being introduced, there has been growth in the black market for tobacco but no impact on youth smoking, according to the group. 

“This information will help a new parliament decide whether a ban on shops displaying tobacco is really the best way to reduce youth smoking, or if there are better alternatives which do not threaten small businesses,” TRA spokeswoman Katherine Graham told Convenience Store.

The Conservative Party has vowed to review, but not necessarily reverse, plans to ban tobacco displays in stores should it get into power in 2010.

However, lobby groups in support of a ban will also be increasing their efforts to undermine retailers’ concerns about the legislation in the coming months, Graham added.

“There have already been concerted efforts to dismiss retailers’ fears about a display ban, and serious attempts to undermine their campaigning - for example, the suggestion the ban will cost about £120 a shop. 

“Retailers need to be aware that those groups will use the next few months to ‘beef up’ the supportive evidence in an attempt to win the Tories over, and will continue to dismiss retailers’ campaigns against the proposals,” she added.

Graham urged retailers to keep up the pressure on their local MPs and other parliamentary candidates to ensure their message was heard.

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