If you disagree with the proposed ban on the display of tobacco then there is still time to object. But don’t delay. The Association of Convenience Stores has a very good website providing the background to the main issues and a draft letter you can copy and send to your MP before the October 12 deadline.

But even if you do agree that the concealment of tobacco products in a legitimate retail environment will help reduce the number of young people taking up smoking, then you should still be sure to get involved in the consultation. A recent trip to Dublin (see News Extra page 10) care of Imperial Tobacco, has shown what a mess it could all turn out to be if any new regulations are not well thought out and implemented.

Most of the stores we visited looked pretty shambolic, with evidence of posters and tobacco marketing material having been ripped away, as if in a hurry, with remnants of sticky tape and fastenings still in evidence. The various drawers now used for storing the tobacco look messy and unprofessional - particularly in these times of such strategically and stylishly structured retail environments - and there is inconsistency in what the retailers think they are allowed to do. There is also a great deal of cynicism that the measures taken will have any positive effect on their main target - youth smokers - and indeed many believe the display ban will actually play right in to the hands of counterfeiters.

If there is to be a tobacco display ban then it must be seen by all to have clarity and purpose; and be practically and aesthetically incorporated into the point of sale zone. In Ireland tobacco marketing has been replaced with a few odd notices or posters - basically a wasted area of what is a prime focal point of the store. Customers have to stand by the till to pay for their goods, so what replaces or conceals the tobacco gantry - should that be the outcome - should live up to its prime position. Get involved.