The UK’s tobacco manufacturers have abandoned plans for a legal challenge of the tobacco display ban legislation.

The move will enable them to open the communication channels with retailers, who up until now have been kept in the dark about the exact changes that will need to be made to their gantries. It will help them prepare for the ban, due to be enforced in large stores (3000sq ft plus) in less than 90 days’ time.

A Judicial Review of the legislation was due to be heard on February 6, however, manufacturers such as JTI and Imperial Tobacco have now told the English High Court that they will not be continuing with it.

The decision, JTI said, was taken in light of “very significant delays” in the adoption of the relevant regulations defining the scope of the ban.

Basic guidance on compliance has only just been published, and the government is not due to publish the final regulations until March.

The “serious and unfortunate delay” had made it less likely that the English High Court could make a decision on the legality of the ban before it began, JTI said, and retailers urgently needed to take steps in order to comply.

“The delays experienced in the English display ban regulations being put in place mean that we have been left with no other alternative but to discontinue this challenge,” JTI UK managing director Martin Southgate said.

“We remain strongly of the view that display bans are ineffective, bad for retailers, and will only put extra pressure on legitimate business at a time when they least need it.

“Our focus now is in assisting the retail trade to adapt to this significant change.”