News that the European Commission is considering hiking up tax on electronic cigarettes has been blasted by a Northwest Euro MP.

The commission wants European member states to consider the “best way to achieve fiscal equal treatment” between e-cigarettes and normal tobacco products.

Tax policy makers from across Europe met in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss whether e-cigs should be covered by excise duty.

Any such move would drastically increase the cost of the alternative smoking product.

MEP Paul Nuttall, UKIP deputy leader, said: "The British Government must stand up against these measures.

"They are far healthier than traditional cigarettes but the ever-controlling European Commission -  normally hell-bent on protecting its citizens from harm - has its eyes on a tax grab.

"As well as being a healthier alternative they are a source of jobs for innovative British companies and that should be assisted and not hindered by this retrograde step."

He said it has been shown e-cigs help smokers give up tobacco, and that should be encouraged.

“I have never seen a private pleasure that the EU does not want to tax,” he added.

“This move will hike up the cost of e-cigarettes and push more people back to more harmful tobacco products.

"It unmasks the real intent of the EU's Tobacco Directive which was to tax all cigarettes more and help governments make more money.”

Traditional cigarettes are massively taxed under EU rules, but the levy does not apply to e-cigs.

The EU demands all member countries impose a minimum of a 57% duty on every packet of cigarettes purchased.