ELECTRONIC ­cigarettes must not become a ­Trojan horse for the ­tobacco industry, used to make smoking acceptable, a government minister has warned.

The rising number of people smoking the liquid nicotine and growing marketing of the product has sparked concerns that people throughout Scotland could become hooked.

John Mason, Shettleston SNP MSP, asked the public health minister if he was concerned about the marketing of the products and the role the traditional ­tobacco industry has in the new market.

Mr Mason is worried that companies who manufacture and sell cigarettes are involved in the sale of the new e-cigarettes.

Michael Matheson, the public health minister, said the government was concerned about the potential for ­electronic cigarettes to ­replace traditional smoking and said regulations had to be carefully devised to ensure only the potential benefits were achieved.

He said there was a place for the devices if they were for medical purposes and used to help people stop smoking, but not to attract a new generation of customers just smoking a different product.

He said: "I remain concerned that the ­promotion of those devices could re-normalise smoking behaviour, particularly among young people."

"It is right that we should also stand against promotion, ­advertising and sponsorship deals that feed nicotine addiction, especially in the context of being attractive to young people."

Mr Matheson said there were European Union regulations which set out the maximum level of nicotine allowed in electronic cigarettes, but said Scotland could consider its own measures to protect the benefits of anti smoking laws and measures.

He added: "We will consider what further measures we take in Scotland.

"I am anxious not to damage the decade of good progress we have achieved and of the need to guard against electronic cigarettes being a Trojan horse for the tobacco industry to achieve its objectives."