A simple near-patient test for nicotine and its metabolites in urine to assess smoking habit

Clin Chim Acta. 1996 Dec 30;256(2):135-49. doi: 10.1016/s0009-8981(96)06417-0.


We describe a disposable, near-patient urine test to monitor cigarette smoking. A plastic device contains the sealed dried reagents to measure nicotine and its metabolites, by a colorimetric assay. The device can be used to give a qualitative assessment of tobacco consumption, simply by observing a colour change. Alternatively, the test can be quantified by measuring the light absorbance with a simple colorimeter, and a concentration of nicotinic metabolites obtained with reference to a cotinine standard. A correction factor for the concentration of the urine sample, based on light absorbance, allows the result to be expressed as a ratio to urine concentration. This method correlates with reported daily cigarette consumption (r = 0.69, p < 0.0001) and compares favourably with cotinine, as measured by gas chromatography (r = 0.89, p < 0.0001). The method provides a simple-to-use, inexpensive way to monitoring tobacco consumption in extralaboratory situations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Gas / standards
  • Cotinine / standards
  • Cotinine / urine
  • Disposable Equipment
  • Humans
  • Nicotine / analogs & derivatives
  • Nicotine / metabolism*
  • Nicotine / urine*
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic / standards
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking / urine*


  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Nicotine
  • Cotinine