Convenience retailers have “nothing to fear” from the tobacco display ban although they need to start budgeting for a no tobacco environment, according to the chief executive of Ireland’s Convenience Store and Newsagent Association.

Vincent Jennings said the experience of Irish retailers, who had witnessed a crackdown on the tobacco market over the past decade, suggested that their UK peers had no cause for concern when the display ban is implemented in small stores in 2015.

“You have nothing to fear from a display ban from a business and financial point of view. Forget the scaremongering, it will not cost a lot of money,” he said. “You need to understand the nature of the product. You have addicted people who need to buy a product. The government is not changing where the product is sold, it’s trying to encourage the next generation not to smoke.”

Speaking at the Association of Convenience Store’s recent Smart conference in Birmingham, Jennings urged retailers to end their reliance on tobacco. “We’ve become lazy in relying on it, and the gravy train will come to an end. It costs more than €1bn in Ireland to deal with the effects of tobacco, so of course the state will crack down on it, like any business would.”

He predicted that the government’s crackdown on tobacco use could eventually result in a replication of the Swedish scenario where state shops prescribed tobacco.

Fran Mente from the Department of Health’s tobacco control programme insisted that no decision had yet been made on plain packaging. “That’s the honest truth,” she said.