A Midlands garage chain has warned that Government plans to ban the display of cigarettes in shops could lead to closures.

MPK Garages – which operates  42 stations – claims that up to nearly half of sales could be lost. Plans brought in by the previous Labour government would ban supermarket cigarette displays from October next year and in small shops in 2013. The Coalition government has not committed itself to scrapping the policy.

And now MPK director, Paul Kershaw, says that without selling other products, along with fuel, could not only signal the death-knell for many forecourts, but could push the price of fuel up even further.

“In rural communities without easy access to large supermarkets with their own forecourts, there will potentially be a devastating effect. A reduction in the number of petrol stations may well force the price of petrol up even further,” he said.

Some surveys have suggested that tobacco accounts for 40 percent of non-petrol sales at forecourts.