Retailers have been urged to contact the Welsh Assembly Government after it launched a consultation over its proposals to ban tobacco displays in shops and prohibit sales of tobacco products from vending machines.

This week the Welsh Assembly said it was consulting on the draft tobacco control regulations for Wales under the Health Act 2009, relating to the display of tobacco products at the point of sale and the prohibition of tobacco vending machines.

Ian Watkins, Imperial Tobacco’s UK public relations manager, said the company did not believe a display ban would achieve the government’s objective to reduce youth smoking rates. He said that instead it would have "a disproportionate effect on small businesses already struggling to cope with the economic downturn at a time when the government is supposedly reiterating its support for small shops".

Watkins added: "A display ban will penalise legitimate retailers who pay rent and rates as opposed to the unregulated black market sellers. With around 27% of all cigarettes consumed in the UK being non duty- paid, concealing tobacco in the legitimate highly-regulated supply chain blurs the line between products sold legally in shops and illegally by criminals.

“Imperial Tobacco does not want children to smoke and we believe that existing legislation to crack down on under-age smokers should be rigorously supported and enforced. A ban on the retail display of tobacco will do little except accelerate an increase in the illicit trade and hit legitimate retailers in their pockets. As regarding the ‘prohibition of tobacco vending machines’, our subsidiary, Sinclair Collis, is seeking a judicial review of the relevant sections of the Health Act which seek to ban sales of tobacco from vending machines in 2011."

He urged retailers and other interested parties to make their views known by responding to the consultation before the July 6th deadline

Full details can be found at;jsessionid=GfSzLGNTC6DyfghDQTLYxlpRJ2SPK2jhJzZgpNt8WVyP34M6FTlP!565326005?lang=en