Evaluation of nicotine, cotinine, thiocyanate, carboxyhemoglobin, and expired carbon monoxide as biochemical tobacco smoke uptake parameters

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 1988;60(1):37-41. doi: 10.1007/BF00409377.


In a cross-sectional study on 236 individuals in Japan (174 males, 62 females; 149 smokers, 87 non-smokers) plasma nicotine (pnic), cotinine (pcot) and thiocyanate (pSCN), urinary creatinine ratios of nicotine (unic), cotinine (ucot) and thiocyanate (uSCN) as well as carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) and expired carbon monoxide (COex) were determined. All tobacco smoke uptake parameters (TSUP) were significantly elevated in smokers as compared to nonsmokers. The discriminant power (smokers vs nonsmokers) rank in the following order: ucot approximately pcot approximately unic greater than pSCN approximately COHb approximately pnic greater than COex approximately uSCN. All parameters except for pnic are significantly correlated with the self-reported number of cigarettes smoked per day. The reason for the poor correlation of pnic with daily cigarette consumption is the short half-life of pnic coupled with the arbitrary time of blood drawing in relation to the last time of smoking.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breath Tests
  • Carbon Monoxide / metabolism
  • Carboxyhemoglobin / metabolism
  • Cotinine / metabolism
  • Creatinine / urine
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / metabolism
  • Smoking / metabolism*
  • Thiocyanates / metabolism
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution*


  • Thiocyanates
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Nicotine
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Carboxyhemoglobin
  • Creatinine
  • Cotinine
  • thiocyanate