All shops in England will be banned from openly displaying tobacco products by April 2015 as part of a government package of measures to cut smoking.
The Department of Health, announcing the legislation on national No Smoking Day, said the new rules would be phased in to give retailers time to adjust.
Cigarettes and other tobacco products must be kept out of sight in large stores and supermarkets by 2012 and in small shops by 2015, ministers said.
Only temporary displays in "certain limited circumstances" will be allowed as the changes take effect, the Department of Health said.
"Smoking is undeniably one of the biggest and most stubborn challenges in public health. Over eight million people in England still smoke and it causes more than 80,000 deaths each year," said Health Secretary Andrew Lansley in a statement.
The rules were part of a strategy to stamp out smoking by stopping the promotion of tobacco by making it less affordable and helping users to quit, he said. Urging young people not to take up smoking in the first place was a key priority.
Just over 20 percent of adults smoke in England and the government wants to reduce that to 18.5 percent by 2015.
The government said it would keep an open mind on whether manufacturers should be forced to put cigarettes in plain packaging and is planning a consultation on different options before the end of this year. Britain would be the first European country to introduce plain packaging if legislation went ahead.
Health charities Ash and Cancer Research UK said they were delighted with the measures but disappointed that the move to outlaw displays would take so long to take effect in some stores. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) described the measures as "a victory for public health".
Retailers reacted angrily, however, and pro-smoking lobby group Forest said it would "discriminate against law-abiding consumers".
The Association of Convenience Stores said regulations would add 40 million pounds in costs for small retailers, saying there "isn't the evidence to suggest that the measure will reduce smoking amongst young people."
The British Retail Consortium said there was no evidence that the legislation would make a difference to smoking habits generally and The National Federation of Retail Newsagents said the move was a "betrayal of our nation of shopkeepers".
Tobacco companies are challenging the ban through the courts with a judicial review due in April.