A ban on displaying cigarettes in shops will not begin until next spring at the earliest, the Health Minister has said.
Edwin Poots wants to introduce regulations barring the tobacco products from view in stores and scrapping vending machines.
Mr Poots said: "Despite all the available evidence on the harm caused by smoking, hundreds of children and young people are still taking up this life-limiting habit each year.
"By removing displays of tobacco products from view in shops, and preventing children from accessing them through vending machines, we are building upon measures already in place aimed at reducing the prevalence of smoking."
Shop owners have highlighted the time it will take them to be ready for the new legislation. There are also legal challenges to the equivalent regulations in England.
Mr Poots said the ban will not commence in Northern Ireland until next spring at the earliest. Vending machine sales should end from February 1 next year.