Peers Helping Peers: Ways to Quit Tobacco with Rx for Change


120 Minutes

Webinar Speakers

Karen Balsamico

Peer Coordinator, Adult Tobacco Cessation Services, Bay Area Community Resources

Karen Balsamico started smoking when she was a senior at San Francisco State in 1972, because a dorm mate said it would help her keep weight off. She continued to smoke for 31 years long after finishing her BA and MA in Theatre Arts.

In July of 2003 Karen contacted Beth Lillard, at Bay Area Community Resources, to help her quit smoking. As fate would have it, she had a heart attack Labor Day weekend, making for a profound wake up call. Due to the heart attack she “quit for good” September 30, 2003.

Once she was tobacco free, she offered to volunteer for BACR. Her first assignment as a volunteer was a 3‐minute statement to the Marin County Board of Supervisors in December of 2003. Since then she has been a guest speaker, sharing her experience at numerous Tobacco Quit Groups. 

In 2009, she started a tobacco cessation support group at Enterprise Resource Center, where she was a Peer Counselor until February 2011. Karen has spoken at several conferences over the years such as the Annual meeting of the National Board of Smoking Cessation Leadership Center in the year 2008, and the NAMI National Convention in San Francisco in 2009.

This year Karen has been the Peer Coordinator for the Tobacco Cessation Needs Assessment Project at Bay Area Community Resources.

Ken Duckworth, MD

Medical Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Ken Duckworth, MD, serves as the medical director for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He is double board certified in adult and child and adolescent psychiatry. He has also completed a forensic psychiatry fellowship.

Dr. Duckworth is currently an Assistant Clinical Professor at Harvard University Medical School, and has served as a board member of the American Association of Community Psychiatrists. Dr. Duckworth has held clinical and leadership positions in community mental health, school psychiatry and now also works as Associate Medical Director for
Behavioral Health at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Prior to joining NAMI in 2003, Dr. Duckworth served as Acting Commissioner of Mental Health and the Medical Director for Department of Mental Health of Massachusetts, as a psychiatrist on a Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) team, and Medical Director of the Massachusetts Mental Health Center.

Dr. Duckworth attended the University of Michigan where he graduated with honors and Temple University School of Medicine where he was named to the medical honor society, AOA. While at Temple, he won awards for his work in psychiatry and neurology. 

He is also a family member of a person living with mental illness.

Karen S. Hudmon, DrPH, MS, RPh

Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Department of Pharmacy Practice, Purdue University College of Pharmacy and Clinical Professor at the School of Pharmacy, at the University of California, San Francisco

Karen S. Hudmon, DrPH, MS, RPh, is Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Purdue University College of Pharmacy and Clinical Professor at the UCSF School of Pharmacy. She is a licensed pharmacist and a cancer prevention researcher with more than 20 years of tobacco research experience, focusing on both prevention and treatment aspects of tobacco control. As an educator, she has provided tobacco cessation training to more than 15,000 health professionals (students and licensed clinicians) and has been a long-time activist for eliminating tobacco sales in pharmacies.

Beth Lillard

Project Director, Adult Tobacco Cessation Services, Bay Area Community Resources

Beth Lillard began her career as behavioral health educator, counselor, and group facilitator in Germany in the late 1970’s, working for the U.S. Army as a civilian
alcohol/drug counselor.

Since then, she has developed programs and provided direct services in New Mexico and California for: residential and out-patient substance use programs; jail inmate education;
homeless shelters; and HIV/AIDS agencies, among others.

In 1994, she returned to Europe to live, moving to Portugal where she taught English at International House for 7 years. Beth believes this experience has greatly influenced her design of effective health education programs, with particular focus on encouraging peer to peer participation.

Since 2003, Beth has been Project Director of Adult Tobacco Cessation Services at Bay Area Community Resources in San Rafael, California. In addition to her community capacity-building work with agencies and medical clinics, she conducts tobacco cessation classes throughout Marin County, primarily for underserved populations. Beth has presented at national and regional conferences on creating “quit-friendly” environments within the mental health community and has organized several local conferences, as well.

Beth’s goal? Hundreds, even thousands, of mental health and substance use peers trained as cessation support counselors and community advocates for their “right to quit”, in spite of institutional barriers.

Frank Vitale, MA

National Director of the Pharmacy Partnership for Tobacco Cessation

Frank Vitale received a B.A. in Liberal Arts from St.Vincent College in 1974 and a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Duquesne University in 1988. He has worked in the field of smoking cessation research since 1987, first as a Health Educator, then as Clinic Coordinator for the Lung Health Study, researching the differential effects of smoking cessation and an inhaled medication (Atrovent) on the prevention of COPD in identified high risk individuals. He has run numerous groups for the I Quit Project of the Smoking Research Group at the University of Pittsburgh as well as designed the intervention for some of these programs. He counseled over one thousand individuals by phone for the Smoke Free Challenge, a smoking cessation program run by the Health Education Center of Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania and contributed to the information packets sent to program participants. He has designed smoking cessation programs for the Comprehensive Lung Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and assisted in the creation of a program to train pharmacist to do smoking cessation counseling by phone for National Rx (Medco) in Columbus OH. He contributed content material for the smoking cessation manuals that accompany the Nicoderm CQ patches in the U.S., Brazil, Mexico and China. In all, he has counseled well over eight thousand people attempting to quit smoking.

While at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, Frank was Project Director of Lung Health Study II, a muticenter research program examining the efficacy of Azmacort in helping individuals with mild to severe COPD regain lung capacity lost to smoking. In his position as director of the International Smoking Cessation Specialist program at the University’s Pharmacy School, Frank created a six-hour CE program designed to teach pharmacists how to do smoking cessation counseling, writing the patient support booklets that accompany this training as well as all auxiliary materials. This program has been presented throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico, Spain and the United Kingdom to well over 14,000 pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. Frank has also been involved in the creation of a CE program for Pennsylvania physicians and dentists as well as projects incorporating smoking cessation training into the curricula of pharmacy, dental, medical and auxiliary health profession schools. From 2009-2012 he continued to train healthcare professionals throughout the US with the CS2Day project.

Frank is currently the National Director of the Pharmacy Partnership for Tobacco Cessation, a project developed under the auspices of The Smoking Cessation Leadership Center of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and ASHP. The partnership is dedicated to creating and disseminating tools and trainings to help pharmacists become involved in
cessation counseling with all patients who use tobacco.

Webinar Objectives
  • Explain why it is important to quit smoking

  • Understand why tobacco products are addictive

  • Describe what helps people quit smoking

  • Explain what peer counselors can do to help others quit smoking

  • Learn from a peer consumer about how to put the training into practice

Additional Resources