School of Population Health

Training in tobacco cessation: current and future medical and nursing professionals

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Training professionals in smoking cessation: from left:Trish Fraser (the Union), Professor Robyn Richmond, Professor Harry Lando (University of Minnesota), Dr Karen Bissell (the Union) and not pictured Dr Martin Raw (Professor: Federal University of Sao Paulo, Lecturer: University of Nottingham).

As a consequence of her research in general practice, Robyn Richmond was invited as Australia’s representative to join the International Union Against Tobacco and Lung Disease (IUATLD). The IUATLD is a non-profit non-government voluntary organisation founded in 1920 that has a focus on low-income countries.  A major activity of the IUATLD is education, and the dissemination of knowledge of lung disease to health care professionals, decision-makers and the general public.  From 1991-1999 Robyn Richmond was Australia’s representative as a member of the Tobacco Prevention Section (TPS) of the IUALTD, and in 1994, she was elected Deputy Chair of the TPS for 3 years, and then Chair for a further 3 years, serving in executive positions for 6 years.  There are >5000 members of the IUATLD and almost 400 members in the Tobacco Prevention Section.  The TPS of the IUATLD identified as one of its programs of work the issue of determining the extent of teaching about tobacco in medical schools around the world and encouraging teaching through medical curricula. Worldwide surveys provided valuable data on the extent of teaching about tobacco in medical schools, and a training program was developed where Robyn Richmond trained professors and academics in medical schools in the tobacco curriculum she had developed for teaching medical and nursing students about tobacco.

For over two decades Robyn Richmond trained academics in medical schools across 15 countries in her tobacco curricula and worked in joint partnerships with them to adapt the teaching manual and student resources for use in their own countries. Her tobacco curricula manual has been translated into French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Mandarin, Japanese, Turkish, Malaysian, Laotian and Farsi, and has been implemented in medical schools in China, Turkey, France, Cambodia, Germany, Iran, Laos, the Arab Gulf states, Italy, Romania, Japan and Spain.

Recent training


Robyn Richmond met with Dr Nils Billo (Executive Director of the IUATLD) in 2010, and working with other members of the Union such as Dr Karen Bissell and Trish Fraser, and with Professor Harry Lando and Dr Martin Raw, they organised and conducted a 3 day training workshop for academics in medical and nursing schools held in Singapore in 2011. The workshop was called Integrating MPOWER-based tobacco control in medical and nursing curricula in Bangladesh, China, India and Indonesia and was organised and funded by the Union’s Tobacco Control Department and Non Communicable Diseases. Deans and professors from medical and nursing schools in Bangladesh, China, India and Indonesia were trained in a tobacco control curriculum based on MPOWER and workshopped ideas to implement a tobacco cessation training program in their respective medical and nursing schools.

The workshop objectives were:

  • To find out what is currently being taught about tobacco control in their current medical and nursing curricula;
  • To introduce and discuss the latest updates in tobacco control;
  • For Professor Richmond to present findings from research on teaching about tobacco control in medical and nursing schools globally;
  • For participants to discuss how to assess and adapt the various tobacco control teaching programs, formats and resources that are available for medical and nursing school contexts, making these relevant;
  • For workshop participants to produce draft plans to design, strengthen and implement tobacco control education in their institution’s medical and nursing curricula;
  • For participants to produce a draft strategy for their country to motivate other key decision makers and stakeholders to implement and expand tobacco control education in medical and nursing schools throughout their countries;
  • For participants to carry out an evaluation on the implementation and adoption of a tobacco control program in their university at 3 and 12 months following the workshop.

Critical to the success of this project is the ongoing support and mentorship, and evaluation of the effectiveness of implementation in medical and nursing schools within each of these four Asian countries.  An important outcome will be to develop guidelines from their experience implementing or strengthening a tobacco curriculum in their medical and nursing schools.

A follow up 3 day workshop to be conducted in Indonesia in 2016 with the same countries represented is currently being organised.

Please see the article on page 5 in the The Globe, the UNSW School of Public Health and Community Medicine's newsletter.


During 2013 and early 2014, Professor Robyn Richmond worked with US Professors Harry Lando, University of Minnesota and Lori Pbert, University of Massachusetts Medical School to develop and conduct a training program for doctors in Tunisia. The members of the team implementing this initiative are Professors Harry Lando, Lori Pbert, Scott Leischow and Robyn Richmond, and Drs Hassan Ghannem and Mustafa al'Absi. The aim of this program is to make the city of Sousse the centre of excellence for Africa focussed on the training of doctors in Africa through capacity building and system changes.  The 4 day training program was conducted in July 2014. Professor Richmond is continuing to work with Professors Lando, Pbert and Leischow to develop this program that includes research and training of doctors in Tunisia in smoking cessation treatments.

Project Members
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Professor of Public Health
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