Tobacco displays will be removed from shops and access to vending machines restricted as part of moves to stop children and young people from smoking.

After holding a consultation on tobacco control, the Department of Health said cigarette displays promote smoking to young people, prompt impulse purchases of cigarettes and undermine efforts to quit.

It said when similar moves had been made in other countries smoking prevalence among young people had fallen by up to 10 per cent.

Age restrictions to vending machines will also be introduced as they are thought to be the primary source of cigarettes for one in five people aged 11-15.

The moves are to be included in primary legislation in the next parliamentary session.

Protecting children

Health secretary Alan Johnson said: “Enticing multi-coloured displays encourage young people to start smoking – we must put a stop to this. Protecting children from smoking is our goal.

“My hope is that shops will use this opportunity to promote healthier goods to their customers.”