A TOP official at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board has welcomed a ban on tobacco displays.
Large shops and supermarkets in Wales will have to keep cigarettes and other tobacco products out of sight of customers in a bid to discourage people — particularly youngsters — from taking up the habit.
And Sarah Hayes, executive director of public heath at the health board welcomed the move. She said: "I am very supportive of it.
"Anything which can discourage people from taking up smoking is very welcome.
"We have a high proportion of smokers in our area. We are one of the highest areas (for smoking) in Wales."
The ban was imposed on supermarkets in England in April but the Welsh Government delayed introducing it while it awaited the outcome of a legal challenge to the legislation.
Businesses breaking the law could be fined up to £5,000 or jailed for up to two years.
Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said: "Around 20 per cent of our NHS admissions are related to smoking, at a cost of more than £1 million a day.
"We know young people can be influenced by seeing cigarettes on display and that they can tempt adults who are trying to give up the habit."
Officials said Trading Standards will be working with businesses to enforce the law.
Ken Yorston, who chairs Wales Heads of Trading Standards, said: "We see the removal of tobacco from retail display as being a key factor in driving down the level of underage sales of tobacco products across Wales."
Chief executive of health charity ASH Cymru, Elen de Lacy, added: "De-normalising tobacco in everyday settings is vital if we are to have any chance of reducing the take-up of smoking among our young people.
"Point of sale displays have been a highly influential advertising space that has a major effect on young people's awareness of tobacco products and can also result in impulse purchasing among young people and ex-smokers."
The ban covers shops with floor space of more than 280 square meters, with smaller shops and specialist tobacconists included in the ban from April 2015.