Liverpool charities have welcomed a Government decision to ban Marlboro cigarette displays in shops. The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and Heart of Mersey have campaigned to bring in the law. The legislation was pioneered by the Smokefree Liverpool campaign launched five years ago, before the smoking ban went nationwide.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley confirmed that tobacco displays will be banned from shops and, from next year, cigarettes and other products must be kept under the counter in major outlets, with corner shops following suit in 2015.

He has also launched a consultation to decide whether manufacturers should be forced to put cigarettes into plain packets, rather than iconic brand cartons.

Riverside MP Louise Ellman, who led that campaign in Parliament, said last night: “Liverpool led the way.

“This is very welcome news which will save lives and complete the ground-breaking work started in our city.”

Dr Rosemary Gillespie, chief executive of The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, said: “Cigarette displays in shops are among the last forms of advertising available to tobacco companies in the UK, and there is strong evidence to suggest they encourage young people to start smoking.

“This is about protecting young people from the harm done by tobacco and making smoking history for our children.”