A Conservative peer has called for the regulation behind the ban of the display of tobacco products to be annulled.

Earl Howe, Shadow Minister for Health, has formally objected to the Statutory Instrument Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display) (England) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/445) which will now be subject to a debate in the House of Lords. 

The debate will decide if the regulations should stand as they are or whether they should be rejected. It is unclear at this stage whether this debate will take place before the election.

Earl Howe is a long-term opponent of the ban and has expressed concerns over the effect of the regulation on the small stores which will have to pay for the structural alterations required when it becomes law in 2013.

He has also questioned the evidence used to justify the ban. In a debate last year, he said that the conclusion that youngsters are influenced by product displays and are more likely to become smokers as a result was based on "simplistic research."

"That is not convincing evidence; it is pure speculation," he said.  "It in no way justifies the creation of a new criminal offence for displaying cigarettes which in any case cannot legally be sold to persons under 18."