Two national newspapers have stepped forward to show their support for the independent store sector.

The Sunday Express announced on May 2 that it was "joining forces with Britain's small shopkeepers to save our newsagents". It is adding its weight to a campaign, led by the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, to stop the ban on point-of-sale tobacco displays.

Mahendra Jadeja of Jardin's Newsagent in Winchmore Hill, North London, told the paper: "This ban is a brainless idea. In all my years of asking people why they started smoking, not one of them has said it was because they saw a display. What is likely to have more of an effect is educating families about the dangers of smoking."

The Express quoted Tory MP Mike Penning as saying the Conservatives would seek to repeal the former Labour government's move. "The Sunday Express vows to hold the Tories to this pledge and to fight any other attempts to bring in this unfair legislation," it said.

"The hard-hit owners of Britain's small shops are fighting a battle for survival, so it makes no sense to pass a useless law that will force many out of business."

Daily Mail columnist Martin Samuel also supported the small shops' view in an article entitled 'Shop where you like as long as it's Tesco'. He wrote: "Councils love Tesco communities because the supermarket pays for projects that used to come off local government budgets. Yet the motivation is not public service.

"There are hundreds of ways high streets have been done for on the twin prongs of ruthlessly enforced punitive parking schemes and cosy incentives offered to supermarkets."

He added: "The day a giant Asda opened at Beckton, East London, Labour councillors stood in local markets offering free shuttle rides there. The traders should have pelted them with tomatoes."