Background: This paper describes a pioneering effort to introduce tobacco cessation into India's undergraduate medical college curriculum. This is the first ever attempt to fully integrate tobacco control across all years of medical college in any low and middle income country. The development, pretesting, and piloting of an innovative modular tobacco curriculum are discussed as well as challenges that face implementation and steps taken to address them and to advocate for adoption by the Medical Council of India. Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with administrators and faculty in five medical colleges to determine interest in and willingness to fully integrate smoking cessation into the college curriculum. Current curriculum was reviewed for present exposure to information about tobacco and cessation skill training. A modular tobacco curriculum was developed, pretested, modified, piloted, and evaluated by faculty and students. Qualitative research was conducted to identify challenges to future curriculum implementation. Results: Fifteen modules were successfully developed focusing on the public health importance of tobacco control, the relationship between tobacco and specific organ systems, diseases related to smoking and chewing tobacco, and the impact of tobacco on medication effectiveness. Culturally sensitive illness specific cessation training videos were developed. Faculty and students positively evaluated the curriculum as increasing their competency to support cessation during illness as a teachable moment. Students conducted illness centered cessation interviews with patients as a mandated part of their coursework. Systemic challenges to implementing the curriculum were identified and addressed. Conclusions: A fully integrated tobacco curriculum for medical colleges was piloted in 5 colleges and is now freely available online. The curriculum has been adopted by the state of Kerala as a first step to gaining Medical Council of India review and possible recognition.
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