Smokers in Iceland, Ireland and most parts of Canada are stopped by law from seeing tobacco brands displayed in shops and other points of sale.
The products are hidden under the counter or behind curtains or screens, making it hard for consumers to know what is available.
Some governments claim, wrongly we believe, that this practice discourages people, including the young, from taking up smoking.
There is evidence to the contrary. For example, when Saskatchewan became the first Canadian province to ban retail displays, the percentage of adults who smoked increased from 21 per cent in 2002 to 24 per cent in 2003.
However, some politicians are pushing ahead with legislation including a number of Australian states, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland and England.
Small retailers, who derive an important proportion of their sales from tobacco, fear losing custom to larger competitors who consumers believe will be more likely to stock their brand. The cost of shop refitting also has a disproportionate impact on the smaller shops.
Canadian retailers report that transactions generally take longer, with increased risk of miscommunication and error by retrieving the wrong product for the customer. In addition, shop workers must turn their back to the service counter for longer periods, creating a higher potential for theft.
Increased illicit trade is another unintended consequence. As all tobacco sales are forced under-the-counter it makes it harder for consumers to make the distinction between legitimate and illicit products and harder to reinforce public appreciation that smuggling, counterfeit and piracy are crimes.
There is no proper evidence to suggest bans would have any impact on smoking rates, including under-age consumption. In fact, under-the-counter sales may actually make smoking seem more appealing to rebellious or curious teenagers.
Display bans obstruct and distort free market competition among tobacco companies and their right to communicate with adult consumers about legally available products.
We also believe that display bans could even lead to increased consumption by encouraging adult smokers to choose products solely on price. A switch to a cheaper brand - or cheap illegal cigarettes - could result in people smoking more.
Our September 2008 submission to the UK Department of Health’s consultation on future tobacco regulation offers more detail on our views on display bans, among other topics.