Research Project

Project S.T.A.R.S: Start Taking Action to Restrict SmokingThe University of Minnesota’s Center For Health Equity has completed recruitment on a research project that partnered with NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, Inc. about the health effects of secondhand smoke on children.

The project enrolled women who smoke that have young children in the home.

Project summary: Project S.T.A.R.S: Start Taking Action to Restrict Smoking 

What is Project STARS?

Project STARS offered the opportunity for mothers to learn about the impact of smoking on their children and their home, while at the same time earning gift cards to Target or Cub for completing key interview, counseling and biomarker feedback sessions.

Project STARS participation

Women who were interested in the project completed a phone eligibility survey. Once eligible, participants were randomized to either the active arm or the control arm of the study. The active arm received 5 counseling sessions which included receiving biomarker feedback about their child’s urine test results and the amount of secondhand smoke in their home. The control arm did not participate in the 5 counseling sessions but received the biomarker feedback at the end of the study. All participants were given their preference of Target or Cub gift cards for completion of study assessment visits.

As part of Project STARS, participants were asked to:

    • Hang a device in the home that tests for secondhand smoke (nicotine) in the air
    • Agree to have their child’s urine tested for tobacco-related chemicals from secondhand smoke
    • Complete three assessment visits at baseline, week 16 and week 26
    • Answer questions about herself, her smoking habits, and her child’s health
    • Allow staff to collect a surface nicotine sample from the home
    • Agree to participate in up to 5 counseling sessions (in their home or over the phone) related to smoking or other health behaviors of the participant’s choice

Participants meeting eligibility requirements were randomly assigned to one of two study groups. The project enrollment wrapped up in April 2013 and finished following final participants in August 2013. The STARS team is hard at work on data analysis with results to come later.   

Project S.T.A.R.S.
University of Minnesota

Community partner 

Secondhand smoke

Exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) early in life increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, and respiratory infections contributing to more than 5,000 premature deaths among children in the US each year. Tobacco smoke contains over 60 recognized carcinogens and a growing body of evidence points to increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease among children exposed to SHS. Since children’s primary exposure to SHS occurs in the home, these most vulnerable members of our society are not fully protected by recent increases in the adoption of smoking in public spaces.

Second-hand smokeAfrican American children suffer disproportionately from the consequences of SHS exposure with well documented higher rates of sudden infant death and asthma. While the roots for these disparities are complex (e.g., poverty, poor housing conditions, environmental allergens), exposure to SHS is a prominent and quickly reversible cause of excess morbidity and mortality. In 2008, the US Centers for Disease Control reported striking ethnic group differences in children’s exposure to SHS, with 70% of African American children demonstrating exposure compared to approximately half this rate among Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic whites. These figures highlight the critical need for innovative interventions to reduce African American children’s exposure to SHS in the home.