The National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) has increased the pressure on the government to scrap the tobacco display ban with a new survey that reveals public doubts about the effectiveness of the measure.

A survey of 2,000 people carried out by Populus showed that 63% of people believe that hiding tobacco products from view will have no effect on young people, with 17% believing the measure will actually increase the appeal of cigarettes. Only 23% believed the display ban would be an effective policy, with other options such as clamping down on smuggling (viewed as effective by 64% of respondents) and outlawing proxy purchase of tobacco (60%) favoured instead.

NFRN national president Parminder Singh said: "There is absolutely no reason for the government to press ahead with this ban."

However, wholesaler Booker believes the tobacco display ban could benefit the local retail trade to the tune of nearly a billion pounds a year in extra sales.

The ban will see large stores forced to conceal their tobacco displays from October 2011 and Booker believes that some multiple retailers will give up their gantries altogether, diverting sales to smaller local stores that will have an extra two years to comply with the legislation. A 10% shift in tobacco business equates to £500m a year, with the added footfall contributing £400m of extra sales in other categories.

Booker retail sales director Steve Fox told C-Store: "We remain opposed to the ban, but we have to prepare for it. A lot has been made of the negatives without identifying the potential postives."