Shop tobacco displays to be banned
Tobacco displays in shops are to be banned in England as part of a series of measures aimed at stopping people smoking.
Cigarettes, rolling tobacco and other tobacco products will be hidden under shop counters, with temporary displays only allowed in limited circumstances.
The Government also said it was keeping an "open mind" on introducing plain packaging, with a consultation this year on options aimed at cutting the promotional impact of logos.
The counter ban comes into force in large stores in April 2012 and in April 2015 for all other shops. A ban of tobacco sales from vending machines will come into force in October.
Retailers reacted angrily to the display ban, saying there was "simply no evidence" axing displays would reduce smoking among young people.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley published Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A Tobacco Control Plan for England to coincide with national No Smoking Day and said smoking was one of the "biggest and most stubborn challenges" in public health.
He added: "Over eight million people in England still smoke and it causes more than 80,000 deaths each year. Smoking affects the health of smokers and their families. My ambition is to reduce smoking rates faster over the next five years than has been achieved in the past five years."
Ministers want to see a drop in the proportion of adults smoking to 18.5% or under by the end of 2015 from 21.2% at present. They also plan to cut smoking rates among 15-year-olds to 12% or under, from 15% at present, and smoking rates in pregnancy down from 14% to 11%.
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) said the new regulations would impose £40 million of costs on small retailers with no proof that banning displays would work.
Chief executive James Lowman said: "There simply isn't the evidence to suggest that the measure will reduce smoking amongst young people."