By Christine Lavelle
NEWSAGENT and corner shop owners claim the ban on cigarette displays will devastate their businesses and are asking for it to be removed.
Many also believe that the move could increase cases of shoplifting, as staff will have to rummage under the counter for tobacco products.
Shopkeepers have been lobbying ministers to reverse the ban, claiming the new legislation could cost recession hit businesses more than £2000 to implement.
Others have said they believe it will lead to a growing black market trade, taking customers away from their shops.
But – ministers have insisted the law will make cigarettes less attractive to children and young people.
After the bill was passed, retailers were given the chance to input ideas as to how the system would work, but have instead called for the ban to be completely scrapped.
Hundreds of angry letters have been sent to the Scottish Government over the issue.
In one of these letters, the Scottish Grocers Federation said: “Compliance with this legislation will be extremely burdensome and disruptive.
“We are also unconvinced that banning tobacco displays will have the stated impact on youth smoking.”
Another, from George Strache, who owns the grocery store used by the Queen during her visits to Balmoral, said: “A significant proportion of my sales come from tobacco and it brings in customers buying additional items.
“The proposed regulations would place a long-term operational burden on my business.”
Linda Falconer, owner of the Longniddry Village Store in East Lothian, said: “Not only is the idea of the ban ridiculous, the proposals are impractical and inconvenient.”
Fiona Moriarty, from the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “We believe the ban will be costly for retailers and their staff.”
Advertising tobacco on TV was banned in the mid-1990s and behind-the-counter displays are one of the only ways cigarette companies can promote their products.
Business leaders fear 250 small businesses in Scotland will go under if the ban is to go ahead.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We’ve listened to retailers’ concerns around health and safety and cost of complying with the ban.
“As a result of these discussions smaller retailers will be given an additional two years to comply with the legislation and will be allowed to modify their gantries to hide to hide tobacco, rather than having to store it under the counter.”