Elimination of cotinine from body fluids: implications for noninvasive measurement of tobacco smoke exposure

Am J Public Health. 1988 Jun;78(6):696-8. doi: 10.2105/ajph.78.6.696.


Cotinine elimination from plasma, saliva, and urine was studied over 11 days in five subjects (three nonsmokers and two occasional smokers). Half-lives for cotinine averaged 16-19 hours in the different body fluids (range 10 to 27 hours between subjects). There was no tendency for the half-life in saliva to be longer than in plasma or urine. We conclude that choice of body fluid for cotinine assay in smoking studies should depend on practical rather than pharmacokinetic considerations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Fluids / analysis*
  • Cotinine / analysis*
  • Cotinine / blood
  • Cotinine / pharmacokinetics
  • Cotinine / urine
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage
  • Pyrrolidinones / analysis*
  • Saliva / analysis
  • Smoking / metabolism
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / analysis*


  • Pyrrolidinones
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Nicotine
  • Cotinine