A communications campaign to raise awareness of the tobacco display ban among shoppers is sorely needed prior to its implementation in small stores on April 6, 2015, a new report has warned.

The recommendation forms part of a Trading Standards Institute (TSI) compliance review which was carried out one year after the display ban’s implementation in large stores on April 6, 2012.

Dealing with “difficult customers who did not know about, or understand the purpose of the regulations” emerged as one of the main complaints by staff at large stores selling tobacco products post-display ban, the TSI said.

The lack of a co-ordinated public information campaign meant that 40% of English adult smokers had “no idea” that a display ban was to be enforced at all, exclusive research from HIM has revealed.

“To pre-empt this situation, advance information specifically aimed at the public may assist in reducing this occurrence experienced by staff in smaller businesses,” the TSI report said.

Almost 90% of all the large stores visited were compliant with the requirement for displays to be fully concealed following a sale. However, only 86% were found to be complying properly with the requirements for pictorial pricing lists.

The TSI also recommended that the guidance be reviewed and “tailored” for small businesses ahead of its implementation in small stores. The work should be carried out with the help of the Association of Convenience Stores, it added.