Landmark Wholesale MD Martin Williams has taken his objections to the Government's tobacco display ban right to the top by penning an outspoken letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The letter, seen by The Grocer, calls on Brown to reconsider the ban, which will come into force from 2011 for larger stores and 2013 for small businesses, and focus efforts on the counterfeit trade.

"Why not help legitimate suppliers, wholesalers and retailers by stamping out crime rather than penalising the innocent?" Williams wrote in the letter. "Your Government rakes in £9.9bn per year, or £1m per hour, yet does little to help the market combat smuggling or counterfeit cigarettes. You tax a packet of B&H at 80% of the cost and lose an estimated £2.8bn to £4.1bn per year of duty income through non-UK duty paid cigarettes."

The letter, also sent to Williams' local MPs, explained that he was moved to pick up his pen following an interview on BBC Radio 2 with Health Secretary Alan Johnson.

"Your Minister stated that the tobacco display ban was only being introduced to stop the increasing number of 11-15 year olds from smoking," he wrote. "Now excuse me, but when has an 11-15 year old ever been caught purchasing cigarettes? They either steal them or buy from the grey market, counterfeit or smuggled."