Wholesalers have branded the tobacco display ban at their depots “a right pain in the a***”.

The ban, which came into force just over a month ago, means wholesalers have to ensure all tobacco products they sell at their depots are covered on their way from tobacco rooms to checkout areas.

All tobacco products have to be hidden from view in transit to prevent them from being seen by non-tobacco retailers. This means that all products leaving tobacco rooms must be concealed by either a cover, a box or a bag. This must be sealed when a customer leaves the tobacco room and then reopened to be processed at the checkout. Products must then be resealed and covered before leaving the depot. Tobacco room windows also have to be covered to hide products from view.

The whole process was “a complete nightmare”, according to a source at a leading wholesaler. “It’s a right pain in the a*** because we have to cover products up from the tobacco room to the checkout and change the bags into boxes. It’s driving us mad.”

The source added that he knew of wholesalers that “were putting two fingers up to it all and not doing it”, claiming that Trading Standards had not “got to grips with it yet”.

Wholesalers are against the display ban because their depots are only used by the trade, and not by members of the public.

The ban was implemented to discourage children from smoking, but the vast majority of wholesalers do not allow children into their depots.

Another wholesale source said: “It is a nightmare, but it could have been a lot worse.”

The Grocer reported in December last year that wholesalers had been left baffled by the “over the top” display rules, with one source branding the ban as “ill thought-out and burdensome”.