The Tobacco Retailers Alliance (TRA) will be lent an even louder political voice when its activities are expanded as part of the ongoing restructure of the Tobacco Manufacturers Association (TMA), Convenience Store has learned.

In the past two years membership of the TRA, which is funded by the TMA, has grown from 16,000 to more than 26,000 independent tobacco retailers.

"As part of the restructuring of the TMA, member companies British American Tobacco, JTI and Imperial are committed not only to retaining the TRA but to expanding the activity of its membership in the future," a TRA spokesman said.

"In doing so, the TRA will continue its successful work in engaging with politicians and stakeholders on tobacco issues which affect independent retailers, such as the fight against tobacco smuggling and preventing youth access to tobacco," he added.

The restructure and appointment of new secretary general Jaine Chisholm Caunt would enable the group to better respond to the UK's changing regulatory climate, a TMA spokesman added.