An article published on nhs.co.uk has criticised a report by the Daily Mail, arguing that evidence of supposed links between vaping and smoking are weak and that the connection is not “robust” or “clear-cut”.

Slamming a Daily Mail article entitled “Children who tried e-cigarettes are 12 times more likely to start smoking tobacco”, the piece edited by NHS Choices concluded that the study “suggests e-cigarettes are unattractive to people who have never smoked”.

The survey, which formed the basis for the story by Daily Mail, analysed the lifestyles of more than 1000 young Brits, in order to find out about their use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes, and establish if any links could be found.

The headline, which said children were 12 times more likely to start smoking tobacco after trying an e-cig, was based on a section of the study comprising just 21 people.

The NHS opinion piece published in their news believes this link is not evidence that vaping leads to smoking, but instead shows that e-cig use is very uncommon among non-smokers.

Although the study was carried out by King’s College London, the University of Nottingham, Public Health England and Action on Smoking and Health UK, the NHS are arguing that the Daily Mail misconstrued the data, and as the study was weakened further as it was cross-sectional.

Public Health England, one of the driving forces in e-cigarette research, said that the NHS should be helping smokers that want to quit by providing vaping devices and products.

“This research provides further insight into the relationship between smoking and e-cigarette use among young people. But the most important thing to realise is that, despite the media headlines, it does not provide firm evidence that people who try e-cigarettes without having smoked previously are then more likely to start smoking,” writes the conclusion.

“It’s true that e-cigarettes users who’d never smoked were 12 times more likely to start smoking, but there were only 21 people in this category in the analysis. The wide confidence intervals around this risk figure indicate how uncertain an association it is.”

“The low number of people who had never smoked and who went on to use e-cigarettes is consistent with other smoking research in the UK. This suggests e-cigarettes are unattractive to people who have never smoked.”

“We still don’t know exactly how many young people who have never previously smoked but choose to try e-cigarettes go on to become smokers, but we can say that using e-cigarettes is associated with smoking tobacco and vice versa.”