Convenience store retailers have been granted an extra 18 months in which to prepare for a tobacco display ban, after the government finally confirmed that it was to push the implementation dates back from October 1 2013 to April 6 2015.

Larger stores, which were due to implement a ban this October, have also been granted a slim reprieve - and now have until April 6 2012 to make the necessary changes to their gantries.

Announcing the ban plans on World No Smoking Day, health secretary Andrew Lansley also said that shopkeepers would be granted greater “flexibility so that they could more easily carry out the day to day running of their businesses without breaching the law – for example, being able to undertake stock-taking or maintenance work while there are customers in the shop.”

The size of the reqested display area will also be increased from 0.75 to 1.5 square metres - meaning that many small stores will only need to fit one set of sliding doors to their gantries.

However, despite the concessions, a ban would still impose unnecessary financial burdens on retailers, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) said.

“We are disappointed that government is pressing ahead with a tobacco display ban imposing £40m of costs on small retailers,” chief executive James Lowman said. “There simply isn’t the evidence to suggest that the measure will reduce smoking amongst young people. The concessions made are not sufficient to allay the long term harm that this measure will cause for local shops."

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Lansley tipped to press on with plain packs for tobacco (07 March 2011)
Focus on Tobacco (17 February 2011)