The Department of Health (DoH) has been urged to engage with petrol retailers after newspaper reports that it is consulting with “interested parties” about introducing plain packaging for tobacco products.

Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association, wrote to the DoH pointing out that it represents 5,500 independent forecourt owner/operators.

He said tobacco sales make up an important element of many forecourts’ sales, and for many are critical to their survival.

He also drew attention to a survey carried out for the PRA to assess members views on a range of issues related to tobacco sales.

It found that 73% believe that plain packaging will harm honest retailers because consumers will seek to purchase alternatives from the black market.

He added: “I believe it is essential that your Department thinks carefully about this proposal and engages with ‘relevant parties’ like the PRA before considering legislation.

“This could have an immediate and detrimental impact on the sales of tobacco products that will ultimately risk the survival of many small and rural petrol filling stations across the UK.”