Three independent retailers were today due to file separate claims in the High Court calling for a judicial review of the ban on the display of tobacco products.

The proposed legal actions against the Department of Health will seek to have the legislation declared in breach of the legal rights of retailers, particularly with regard to their right to free expression.

The law says people’s free speech, including a retailer’s right to communicate with his customers by displaying a range of products in stock, can only be interfered with by the government if there is a public interest justification.

The retailers allege there is no such public interest because there is no evidence that the move – to ban the display in large retailers from October 2011 and in small retailers two years later – will achieve the targeted public health benefits.

It is estimated up to 30,000 businesses could go under as a result of the tobacco display ban.

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