Tobacco display ban in large shops comes into force
A ban on the display of cigarettes and other tobacco products in large shops in Scotland has come into force.
Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said the move will help prevent young people from taking up smoking.
Under the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010, the sale of cigarettes from vending machines is also banned.
Stores that do not comply could be convicted of a criminal offence or receive a fixed penalty fine.
England, Wales and Northern Ireland have already brought in similar bans to prevent large stores from displaying cigarettes and tobacco.
The Scottish government's Tobacco Control Strategy also supports the introduction of standardised packaging.'Right step'
Mr Matheson said: "These bans are the right step to prevent young people in Scotland from taking up smoking.
"It is well known that smoking is associated with a range of illness and is the primary preventable cause of ill health and premature death. Each year, tobacco use is associated with over 13,000 deaths and 56,000 hospital admissions in Scotland.
"That is why it is so important that this government works to improve health by reducing the number of people who choose to smoke and evidence shows that young people exposed to the promotion of tobacco are more likely to try smoking."
The move has been welcomed by Cancer Research Scotland but the Tobacco Retailers' Alliance (TRA) - which represents more than 26,000 shopkeepers across the UK - has argued against the legislation.
And the Scottish Grocers' Federation said it will mean longer transaction times at the till and confusion over pricing.
It also believes the new laws will not make any difference and that smokers will still smoke.
John Drummond, from the federation, told BBC Scotland: "We think it's unnecessary. We don't believe that displays of cigarettes behind the counter actually influences anyone to buy cigarettes.
"There is no doubt that smoking can be harmful but it's a legal practice.
"We stock it, sell it, and will continue to do so."
Large shops are defined as those with a relevant floor area exceeding 280 square metres.
Smaller retailers have until 6 April 2015 to comply with the display ban.Smoking in vehicles
Meanwhile, a consultation on proposed legislation to ban smoking in vehicles when children are present is to be launched by Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume.
Mr Hume said such a ban has already gained support from a number of charities, including Children in Scotland and the British Heart Foundation.
The South of Scotland MSP will launch the consultation on proposals for his Members Bill next month.
He said banning adults from smoking in cars when children are present is the next step in tobacco control.
"Passive smoking is entirely avoidable and a private vehicle is one of the few places a child can still be legally exposed to tobacco smoke," he said.
"I stand alongside the British Heart Foundation, British Lung Foundation, Children in Scotland and ASH Scotland, among many others, in seeking a change to the law and hope that people and organisations from across Scotland can take part in this important consultation.
"It doesn't seem fair that any child should have to be trapped in a car which is filled with smoke. When you consider the real implications this can have for a child's immediate and future health, it is clear we need to do what we can to protect children and give them the best start in life."