A mobile-phone-based breath carbon monoxide meter to detect cigarette smoking

Nicotine Tob Res. 2014 Jun;16(6):766-73. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntt275. Epub 2014 Jan 27.


Introduction: Mobile phones hold considerable promise for delivering evidence-based smoking cessation interventions that require frequent and objective assessment of smoking status via breath carbon monoxide (Breath CO) measurement. However, there are currently no commercially available mobile-phone-based Breath CO meters. We developed a mobile-phone-based Breath CO meter prototype that attaches to and communicates with a smartphone through an audio port. We then evaluated the reliability and the validity of Breath CO measures collected with the mobile meter prototype and assessed the usability and acceptability of the meter.

Methods: Participants included 20 regular smokers (≥10 cigarettes/day), 20 light smokers (<10 cigarettes/day), and 20 nonsmokers. Expired air samples were collected 4 times from each participant: twice with the mobile meter and twice with a commercially available Breath CO meter.

Results: Measures calculated by the mobile meter correlated strongly with measures calculated by the commercial meter (r = .96, p < .001). Additionally, the mobile meter accurately distinguished between smokers and nonsmokers. The area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve for the mobile meter was 94.7%, and the meter had a combined sensitivity and specificity of 1.86 at an abstinence threshold of ≤6 ppm. Responses on an acceptability survey indicated that smokers liked the meter and would be interested in using it during a quit attempt.

Conclusions: The results of our study suggest that a mobile-phone-based Breath CO meter is a reliable, valid, and acceptable device for distinguishing between smokers and nonsmokers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breath Tests / instrumentation*
  • Carbon Monoxide / analysis*
  • Cell Phone*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Smoking*


  • Carbon Monoxide