The Department of Health has confirmed the dates for the introduction of stricter controls on tobacco packaging, pack sizes and electronic cigarettes.
The new regulations will come into force in May 2016 - from May 2017 retailers cannot sell products that do not comply.
The new regulations include:
·a minimum pack size of 20 cigarettes
·a minimum weight of 30g for roll-your-own tobacco
·the size of health warnings (text and photograph) to cover 65% of the front and back of pack (previously 30% on front and 40% on back of pack)
·a ban on cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco containing characterising flavours such as menthol is also being introduced from May 2020
·new regulations coming into force in November 2016 for e-cigarettes which require the products to carry a health warning. The sell through period for retailers with existing stock will be a period of six months to May 2017.
Commenting on the changes, Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman said: "The introduction of these regulations alongside the implementation of the plain packaging rules marks a significant change for retailers that will be disruptive to their businesses.
"Government must focus its attention on tackling the harmful illicit trade in tobacco through stricter border checks and better enforcement in local areas. We are concerned that the introduction of the Tobacco Products Directive regulations alongside plain packaging will fuel the illicit trade, and urge the government to publish further details of plans to introduce a 'track and trace' system for legitimate tobacco products."