Scotland’s implementation of the tobacco display ban, due to come into force for larger retailers on October 1, will be delayed because of an ongoing legal challenge.

Imperial Tobacco had previously appealed against the provisions of the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Bill on shop displays but its case was rejected. The company is now appealing and a hearing later this year means the ban will have to be delayed.

Public Health Minister Shona Robison said: “We remain fully committed to this policy and are continuing to work with the retail industry to prepare for implementation. However, the ongoing legal challenge means that an October start date is now unrealistic. We will announce the new implementation date as soon as possible.”

The Scottish Bill includes a registration scheme for tobacco retailers, but it was the provision forcing products under the counter and outlawing cigarette vending machines that led to Imperial Tobacco seeking judicial review on the grounds that it went beyond the legal powers of the Scottish Parliament.

John Drummond, chief executive of the Scottish Grocers’ Federation, said: “We welcome this sensible decision. The uncertainty caused by the legal challenge has made it impossible for retailers to prepare for the changeover within the current timescales.”