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Thorax. May 1985; 40(5): 351–357.
PMCID: PMC460066

A simple, inexpensive urine test of smoking.


Three novel colorimetric methods of detecting urinary nicotine metabolites called the barbituric acid, diethylthiobarbituric acid (DETB), and DETB extraction methods were evaluated for use as a simple, cheap, objective test of smoking. Urine samples were collected from 103 male smokers and 78 male non-smokers working at two London factories. The smokers recorded the number of cigarettes smoked over the previous 36 hours. All three methods correctly classified the smokers. The DETB extraction method had a lower false positive rate (averaging 3% on morning and afternoon urine samples) than either the DETB or the barbituric acid method (12% and 6% respectively) and was the best procedure for classifying subjects as "smokers" or "non-smokers." When a quantitative variant of the barbituric acid method was used there was a significant correlation (r = 0.85, p less than 0.001) between the ratios of urinary nicotine metabolites to creatinine and the number of cigarettes smoked. The ratios for smokers of 6-15, 16-25, and 26 or more cigarettes, however, overlapped considerably. The methods can be performed very rapidly and the reagent cost is equivalent to less than 1p per test.

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Selected References

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