• To test whether a family-based program about second hand smoke will reduce the number of clinic presentations of infants for respiratory illness.
  • To provide high-level evidence of the efficacy to reduce respiratory illness of a family-centred tobacco control program about secondhand smoke.

The Healthy Starts Program (known as Te Piripohotanga in New Zealand) is an international randomised controlled trial of a family-centred tobacco control program delivered by Aboriginal and Maori community workers to reduce respiratory illness in Indigenous infants in Australia and New Zealand.

Over 60% of Indigenous Australian children live in households with one or more regular smokers, where they are exposed to high levels of second hand smoke. Second hand smoke is a significant and preventable cause of respiratory illness. Currently, more young  Indigenous children die from acute respiratory illness (ARI) than any other cause. ARI is also the leading cause of hospitalisations in this population, and recurrent ARI is associated with an increased risk of chronic respiratory disease.

There is a currently a dearth of evidence for the effect of tobacco control interventions. This study utilises a novel RCT design, based on our research finding that one of the most common reasons  Indigenous adults want to quit smoking is to protect their children from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

Our research has found:

Results will be available in 2013.

Chief investigators:
Contact information:
  • National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
  • Health Research Council New Zealand
  • Cure Kids New Zealand
  • James Russell Lewis Trust, New Zealand.
  • University of Auckland
  • Danila Dilba Health Service
  • Cancer Council Victoria. 
  • Healthy Starts - reducing the health effects of smoking around Indigenous babies and children
  1. Johnston, V., Walker, N., Thomas, D.P., Glover, M., Chang, A.B., Bullen, C., et al. (2010). The study protocol for a randomized controlled trial of a family-centred tobacco control program about environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) to reduce respiratory illness in Indigenous infants. BMC Public Health,10,114.
  2. Johnston, V., Westphal, D., Glover, M., Thomas, D.P., Segan, C., & Walker, N. (2013). Reducing smoking among indigenous populations: new evidence from a review of trials. Nicotine & Tobacco Research; doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntt022.