The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has warned the government that the proposed ban on the display of tobacco products is a distraction which must not prevent it from addressing the real issues affecting the tobacco market.

In its submission to the Department of Health consultation on its Future of Tobacco Control Strategy, ACS points out that government targets to reduce youth smoking would be better met by tackling the black market and adults who provide tobacco to under-18s.

Instead of a display ban which would cost the industry millions of pounds, despite there being no evidence from other countries or academic literature that it would be effective, ACS is calling for government to address illicit tobacco sales. It has calculated that a 25% cut in the amount of illegal tobacco on the streets would lead to a £3.4bn health benefit.

“One in three young smokers gets tobacco from the illicit trade,” said chief executive James Lowman. “In our submission we have spelled out the actions that will make a real difference.”

The submission also urges the government to outlaw proxy purchasing of tobacco.

“This is the most likely way that young people will be introduced to smoking,” Lowman said. “It is immoral and should be illegal.”