A display ban on tobacco products could force 2,600 independent stores to close and cost 8,000 jobs.

That’s the warning from the Tobacco Retailers Alliance, a coalition of around 25,000 independent shopkeepers, which yesterday launched a campaign against the Government’s proposal to ban the display of tobacco products in shops.

The campaign, called ‘Save Our Shops’, is calling on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to scrap the proposals and discuss other ways to reduce youth smoking.

“Our members are at the sharp end of this recession and being forced to hide their tobacco out of sight will be the last straw for many,” said Ken Patel, National Spokesman of the Tobacco Retailers Alliance.

“The bottom line is, any legislation which restricts small business must be evidence-based, fair and balanced,” he added. “The Government has said that it wants to help small business at this difficult time – yet these proposals would force many small shops to close.”