Retailers are demanding urgent clarification from the government over the implementation of the ­tobacco display ban.

The Department of Health last week sent out draft guidance with a deadline of 16 August for comment. The guidance, seen by The Grocer, covers what retailers will have to do to comply with the ban. It allows the use of temporary displays of up to 1.5 sq m for the purpose of stock-taking, training, cleaning of tobacco storage units and maintaining or refurbishing storage units.

However retailers are getting increasingly concerned they will be left with very little time to implement the ban, due to come into force for stores of over 3,000 sq ft in April.

The guidance was compiled following a Tobacco Control meeting in March. In its email with the guidance, DH apologised “for the delay in sending this”.

After this month’s deadline, the guidance will be subject to yet further consultation. “Time is running out,” said one retail source. “There is still a lack of clarity over exactly how this ban is going to work.”

It is also understood that a judicial review into the legality of the ban brought by the major tobacco companies has been pushed back from October until February.