Tobacco retailers will be forced to foot the full cost of the bill for any changes to their gantries if a total ban on display is implemented, after the UK's leading tobacco manufacturers confirmed they would not be assisting with funding.

Imperial Tobacco corporate affairs manager Steve Stotesbury told Convenience Store that the government should not expect it to help ease the financial burden on retailers.

"It is not in our interest to fund any changes if a full ban on display is implemented," he said.

However, he added that the company would be more receptive should the legislation allow an element of display.

"Until we hear more about the nature of the regulations it remains difficult to say what we would and wouldn't do. The devil will most definitely be in the detail," he said.

JTI head of communications Jeremy Blackburn also said the company had no plans to fund any of the proposed changes.

"Our advice is for retailers to speak to their MPs and make them aware of the consequences," he added.

It is understood there is still a slim possibility that the legislation, currently being debated in the House of Commons, could allow for display restrictions rather than a total ban on display.

Among the restrictions under consideration are smaller, unlit gantries, and a ban on any more than one facing of each brand.

The cost to retailers should a total display ban be implemented would be more than £1,800 per store, according to Association of Convenience Stores estimates.