Scots legislators have put off implementation of the tobacco display ban, which was due to come into force on 1 October.
The ban has been shelved until a legal challenge brought by Imperial Tobacco is concluded.
Ministers said an October start-date was now “unrealistic”, as retailers would not have enough time to adequately prepare for the ban if it survives Imperial’s court bid.
Retailers welcomed the move and called for the coalition government to ditch plans for a display ban in England and Wales.
“[Display] bans have failed to reduce smoking in every country that has introduced them and had an irreparably damaging impact on the independent retail sector,” said Parminder Singh of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents.
“Countries such as Sweden and Denmark have recently rejected bans for these very reasons.”
James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, warned that the “delays and lack of clarity are making the situation impossible for retailers”.
He said: “Having decided to delay implementation Ministers have the opportunity for a rethink that will focus policy on measures that will actually reduce youth smoking.”
Lobby groups call for ban plan decision (Convenience Store; 20 January 2011)
Daily Bread: Smoke and mirrors (20 December 2010)
Lansley’s vision: is the health secretary being myopic? (analysis; 4 December 2010)
Imperial takes to courts in Scots display ban challenge (25 June 2010)