Small shops leaders have criticised a government campaign to educate young consumers about the increase in the legal age for buying cigarettes from 16 to 18.

The drive, launched by the Department of Health, will include an outdoor poster campaign in September, but no TV or national press ads.The Association of Convenience Stores is worried the message won't get through to young people and, when the law changes on 1 October, store workers could face threatening behaviour from minors refused sale.

"We have been pushing the government to clarify their plans for communicating the change and are glad they have done this," said Shane Brennan, public affairs manager for the ACS. "But we made it clear that the lack of ads means some consumers won't be aware of the change."

A website, www.tobaccoagechange.co.uk, has been launched and a toolkit will be available to explain changes to retailers from next month. Mailings will also be sent to 100,000 retailers.