More than 50 Coalition MPs have signed a letter to ministers calling on the government to honour its pre-elction pledge to review the tobacco display ban.

So far 48 Conservative and five Liberal Democrat MPs have signed the letter to health secretary Andrew Lansley and business secretary Vince Cable, with more signatures being added. It says “there is a very high expectation” that the Coalition will honour the pre-election pledges by both political parties.

The letter argues that the ban will disadvantage small shops and will not reduce smoking, on the available evidence. There is also no public support for a ban, it adds.

Speculation has been growing that plain packaging will be introduced instead of a display ban, fuelled by the fact no mention of the ban was made at the launch of the government’s Health White Paper, even though its first implementation date is less than 10 months away.

Recent research by Convenience Store found that retailers envisage plain packaging as being less damaging than a tobacco display ban.

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