The campaign against a tobacco display ban in the UK has received a welcome boost from New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key, who has said there is no evidence to show that such a move would reduce youth smoking rates.

Speaking on Australian television, Key also said that the measures would have a detrimental impact on small businesses.

Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman said: "This U-turn is significant. It shows that the evidence is not there to prove that banning tobacco displays has any effect on youth smoking rates.

"These are exactly the points that ACS has been making to the UK government, and we hope that they will now urgently review their decision."