The government has delayed the proposed introduction of a £80 fine for shop staff who sell cigarettes to under-18s after pressure from retail trade associations.

The proposal, which was made public just last week, was due to be implemented within days after being fast-tracked through both houses of parliament.

Retailers' representatives the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and British Retail Consortium (BRC) immediately wrote to Secretary of State for Justice Jack Straw to protest that the move had not been opened up to consultation with retailers and would significantly alter enforcement activity.

The government has now indicated that it will consult with the trade before deciding whether to continue with the plans.

ACS Chief Executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the fact that government has taken the decision to withdraw the legislation and will now take time to consult widely on the proposal. It is vitally important that we fully understand the implication for enforcement of the introduction of new penalties.

“We look forward to playing a full part in consultation on this measure.”