Legal appeal delays tobacco display ban in Scotland

Cigarettes Ministers said they would announce a new date for the display ban as soon as possible

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A ban on tobacco displays in shops has been delayed because of an ongoing legal challenge, the Scottish government has said.

The new law, voted in by MSPs at the start of 2010, was due to begin for larger retailers in October this year.

But Imperial Tobacco is appealing against a decision dismissing its original challenge in 2010, meaning the legislation cannot be used.

Ministers say they will announce an implementation date when possible.

The Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Act aims to discourage young people from taking up smoking by banning shops from displaying cigarettes and other tobacco products and restrict cigarette vending machines.

The legislation, which also brought in a tobacco retailers registration scheme, was backed by anti-smoking groups, but criticised by shop owners and the tobacco industry.

Imperial Tobacco's legal challenge on the grounds that the ban was outside the scope of Holyrood's powers was dismissed at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, although the appeal is now expected to be held later this year.

The company says the move is an "unreasonable and disproportionate approach to regulating tobacco" and insists there is "no credible evidence" to support the idea that banning tobacco displays will stop children taking up smoking.

Despite the government setback, 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."

Smaller retailers have been given until 2013 to implement the ban.

Ministers said the vending machine ban, which is not affected by the legal challenge, would still go ahead in October.

Sheila Duffy, of anti-smoking group Ash Scotland, said the situation was disappointing, but not surprising.

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