Wholesalers, independents and supermarket chains got an early Christmas present from Business Secretary Peter Mandelson this week as the Government appeared to back away from controversial proposals governing alcohol and tobacco sales.

But industry leaders were all demanding greater clarity from the Government after this week's Queen's Speech U-turn. They claim there is still a great deal of confusion over a proposed mandatory code of practice for selling alcohol that bans 'bad promotions' but does not give a lot of detail on what will be considered bad.

Confusion also exists for the tobacco industry, after intervention from Mandelson's office is believed to have blocked the introduction of an outright display ban due to fears over the economy and the financial impact on retailers. The Department of Health is due to reveal details of a further consultation on Monday.

It is believed a compromise is still being thrashed out, with some restrictions on the display of tobacco expected to be announced. But these would stop short of an outright display ban, The Grocer has learned.

Nonetheless Mandelson's intervention is being hailed as a victory by industry representatives who claim the Government has been unable to prove that a display ban would deliver a strong enough public health benefit to justify the damage to independent retailers and wholesalers in particular.

"We are heartened by the news that Lord Mandelson is considering the business case for this issue," said ACS public affairs director Shane Brennan. "The health benefits of a display ban are simply not clear. There is a total lack of evidence on the impact of a ban on youth smoking."

An ACS survey found changes to stores alone would cost the independent sector £252m. FWD director-general John Murphy said he was also pleased that the damage to the wholesale and independent sector was at last being recognised. "Very tight regulation of the sector already exists," he said. "I can't see how a cigarette gantry would provoke children with all those sweets."

Meanwhile the new Bill that aims to curb binge drinking has stopped short of introducing minimum price points for alcohol, although multibuys could yet face restrictions. The main thrust of the Bill appears to focus more on promotions in bars such as 'women drink for free'.

"We fully support the Government in pursuing a mandatory code to tackle irresponsible alcohol promotions and we welcome the new enforcement levels proposed," said a Diageo spokesman. "Diageo believes industry and Government should work together to eradicate bad promotions."