Retailers have estimated the cost of compliance with the tobacco display ban, coming into force for large stores in England tomorrow, at £15.6m.

A British Retail Consortium survey today put the average cost of compliance to retailers affected by the ban at £2,285. The government’s regulatory impact assessment said that 6,834 stores would have to ‘go dark’.

The BRC launched a stinging attack on the government for a lack of co-ordination in its tobacco policy, with a consultation on forcing tobacco products into plain packaging due to be launched shortly. It said this could prove more effective than a display ban but a combination of both represented the “worst of the worst” for retailers.

“If a decision is taken to go ahead with plain packaging, hiding tobacco products from view in store becomes irrelevant,” said BRC food director Andrew Opie.

“Arguably, plain packaging could be more effective at achieving the Government’s aims. What we have instead is the worst of both worlds – costly and unnecessary red tape which is unlikely to have a significant impact.”