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Do health halos and conspicuous consumption influence the appeal and risk perceptions of e-cigarettes among young Cambodian men?
  1. Thomas Stubbs1,
  2. Samantha Thomas1,
  3. Hannah Pitt1,
  4. Mike Daube2
  1. 1 Institute of Health Transformation, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2 Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Thomas Stubbs, Institute of Health Transformation, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia; tstubbs{at}


Introduction Reduced risk perceptions influence young people’s consumption behaviours of e-cigarettes, suggesting that a health halo effect may be associated with these devices. Product, performative, and social factors contribute to the appeal of e-cigarettes, with young people using e-cigarettes with friends as part of social interactions. This study explored the factors that influence the appeal and risk perceptions associated with e-cigarettes among young Cambodian men.

Methods A mixed-method, interviewer-administered survey with 147 young men in Cambodia, who were aged between 18 and 24 years and identified as cigarette smokers. Participants described their attitudes and consumption behaviours surrounding e-cigarettes, recalled e-cigarette promotions, and described their risk perceptions towards e-cigarettes. Descriptive statistics were calculated for quantitative data, and thematic analysis was conducted for qualitative data.

Results Some participants associated e-cigarettes with affluence and exclusivity, describing these devices as products that rich and/or younger people use. Participants also described product attributes that were appealing about e-cigarettes, such as variety of flavours, vapour, and performing smoke ‘styles’ with friends, which differentiated the product from combustible cigarettes. Participants also had reduced risk perceptions towards e-cigarettes, with some commenting that e-cigarettes were not harmful or might be health-enhancing.

Conclusion Some young people may perceive e-cigarettes as a form of conspicuous consumption, which they associated with social status and identity. A health halo effect appears to be associated with e-cigarettes among some young people. This may influence young people to underestimate the potential health risks associated with these devices.

  • electronic nicotine delivery devices
  • low/middle income country
  • public policy
  • advertising and promotion
  • global health

Data availability statement

No data is available for sharing with other researchers.

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  • Contributors TS, ST and MD conceptualised the study and designed the survey questionnaire. TS conducted the field work. TS led the data analysis. All authors participated in the drafting and critical revision of the manuscript. All authors have seen and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This research was funded by TS’s PhD scholarship from Deakin University.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.