From today, all large shops and supermarkets in England will have to cover up cigarettes and hide tobacco products from public view, under new rules.
The new legislation has come into effect to protect children from being the target of tobacco promotion and to help people quit smoking.
Under the new rules all tobacco products must be kept out of sight except when staff are serving customers or carrying out other day-to-day tasks such as restocking.
Those found not complying with the law could be fined up to £5,000 or face imprisonment.
he Department of Health said the move was in response to evidence that cigarette displays can lure young people to start smoking.
According to its figures:
- More than 300,000 children under 16 trying smoking each year.
- 5% of 11 to 15-year-olds are regular smokers
- 39% of smokers say that they were smoking regularly before the age of 16
- Nearly two-thirds of current and ex-smokers say they started smoking before they were 18
The Health Minister Anne Milton said:
Jo Butcher, programme director of health and well-being at the National Childrens Bureau, said:
Amanda Sandford, research manager at the charity Ash (Action on Smoking and Health) also welcomed the rules banning cigarettes from being put on display in large retailers and supermarkets.
However, Simon Clarke, director of the smokers lobby group Forest said there was "No justification for the change in tobacco displays".
Some retailers have also criticised the changes.
Richard Dodd, from the British Retail Consortium told ITV News the "extra burden" of refitting stores in preparation for the new rules had cost its members nearly £16m across nearly 7,000 stores.
The ban on displays will roll out to smaller shops and businesses in three years time while the Government is also consulting on introducing plain packaging for packets of cigarettes and other tobacco products.