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Nicotine Tob Res. 2004 Dec;6(6):997-1008.

Determinants of salivary cotinine levels among current smokers in Mexico.

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Centro de Investigación en Salud Poblacional, Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública, Cuernavaca, Morelos, México.


The present study describes salivary cotinine levels and their relationship to cigarettes smoked per day in Mexican smokers. Using a sampling strategy based on the number of cigarettes per day, we recruited 1,222 smokers from Mexico City and the state of Morelos in Mexico during 1999. Smoking behaviors and other factors known to affect nicotine intake and cotinine level were identified in an interview using a standardized questionnaire. Salivary cotinine was measured by capillary gas chromatography with nitrogen-phosphorus detection. We used generalized additive models to describe the relationship between salivary cotinine levels and variables of interest. The mean age of the population was 39.7 years (SD=15.6 years), with a mean cotinine level of 194.7 ng/ml (SD=134.8; range=10.1-767). Participants smoked a mean of 15.5 cigarettes per day (SD=11.3). Salivary cotinine and cigarettes smoked per day were positively related, although the association was not linear, flattening above 20 cigarettes per day. After adjusting for cigarettes per day, we found that significant predictors of cotinine levels included age, body mass index, cigarette producer, and smoking behavior variables. These results may have implications for dosing with nicotine medications to aid smoking cessation in Mexican smokers and suggest that whether the cigarette is labeled light or regular has no relationship to nicotine dose from smoking cigarettes.

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