Urine Nicotine Testing
Tobacco use is the leading cause of death in the United States. Nicotine, coadministered in tobacco products such as cigarettes, pipe, cigar, or chew, is an addicting substance that causes individuals to continue use of tobacco despite concerted efforts to quit. Nicotine stimulates dopamine release and increases dopamine concentration in the nucleus accumbens, a mechanism that is thought to be the basis for addiction for drugs of abuse.
Nicotine is rapidly metabolized in the liver to cotinine, exhibiting an elimination half-life of 2 hours. Cotinine exhibits an apparent elimination half-life of 15 hours. Patients using tobacco products excrete nicotine in urine in the concentration range of 1,000 to 5,000 ng/mL. Cotinine accumulates in urine in proportion to dose and hepatic metabolism (which is genetically determined); most tobacco users excrete cotinine in the range of 1,000 to 8,000 ng/mL. Urine concentrations of nicotine and metabolites in these ranges indicate the subject is using tobacco or is receiving high-dose nicotine patch therapy.