A poll commissioned by the PRA shows retailers are increasingly opposed to Government proposals to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products in the wake of evidence from Australia.

Last month, as an independent review into plain packaging was due to report to the Department of Health, the Populus poll undertaken for the PRA revealed:

73% of retailers say plain packaging would hurt their businesses, up from 65% last year;

90% believe direct tobacco sales are important to their bottom line, up 11 points from last year;

79% believe it would cause people to turn to the black market, where they can access cheap, branded packs.

PRA chairman Brian Madderson, who presented the findings at the Live@the Counter event at the annual National Convenience Show at the NEC, said: "Small retailers are facing the cost of introducing the point-of-sale display ban next year, so it is absurd that the government might now adopt plain packaging when there is not a shred of evidence that it would reduce smoking rates.

"The more retailers hear about the impact of plain packaging in Australia, the only country with the measure, the more opposed they are to seeing it introduced in the UK."