UPDATE 1-Imperial Tobacco loses legal challenge to display ban

Wed Dec 12, 2012 7:28am EST

* Legal bid fails against Scottish tobacco measures

* Cigarette display ban to go ahead from April 2013

LONDON Dec 12 (Reuters) - Imperial Tobacco, the world's fourth-largest cigarette group, has lost a legal bid to overturn a Scottish government ban on the display of cigarettes.

Britain's Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the company's claim that the Scottish government had exceeded its powers by approving the prohibition, which also outlaws cigarette vending machines.

Imperial, whose brands include Davidoff, JPS and Lambert & Butler, had said the Scottish legislation trespassed on areas that were reserved for the British government.

The court, Britain's highest, said Scotland's 2010 Tobacco Act was "not outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament".

Imperial's legal challenge had delayed Scotland's planned introduction of the ban this April as a public health measure to help prevent young people from taking up smoking.

Following the ruling, the Scottish government said it would implement the display ban from April 2013.

Imperial said it was disappointed by the court's decision.

"We will now await the publication of the Scottish display ban regulations and will consider our options," it said.

Elsewhere in Britain, bans are already in force on cigarette vending machines and on the display of tobacco in large retailers, with the prohibition due to apply to smaller shops by 2015.