Retailers in Scotland are breathing a small sigh of relief after the government announced that it was to delay the implementation of a tobacco display ban.

The ban, which was due to be implemented in large stores on October 1, has been postponed while an ongoing legal challenge mounted by Imperial Tobacco is played out.

The Lambert & Butler manufacturer is appealing an earlier Court of Session judgement which found in favour of the Scottish Government.

The appeal is due to be heard later this year, which would not allow sufficient preparation time for retailers in advance of implementation in October.

Public health minister Shona Robison said the legal challenge had made an “October start date unrealistic.”

“We will announce the new implementation date as soon as possible,” she

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) welcomed the announcement of a delay, and called on ministers in England to follow suit.

Chief executive James Lowman said: “As ministers prevaricate on policy in England, and courts in England and Scotland consider legal challenges, uncertainty prevails and the retailer suffers. We welcome the decision of the Scottish health minister to delay the implementation of a display ban, and we urge ministers in England and Northern Ireland to follow suit.”

“The delays and lack of clarity are making the situation impossible for retailers across Britain, it is now time for a delay.”