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TobacAlert Nicotine Test Kit as Motivation to Quit Smoking and not Relapse
TobacAlert is an instant result home nicotine test kit performed
on a urine specimen and is the only quantitative instant test kit on the market that determines a person's level
of exposure to tobacco whether the use of tobacco is in cigarettes, pipes, chewing tobacco or cigars. The
information provided by the test with respect to level of tobacco exposure can be a potential incentive for one
to quit smoking and to avoid relapse once smoking cessation has been achieved.
The cornerstone for successfully quitting smoking is a quit smoking plan which includes a quit date and a support
group consisting of family, friends, and coworkers who have been notified of the quit smoking plan and from whom a
request for encouragement and support has been solicited. In addition to emotional support and encouragement
motivation in the form of measurable benefits is also an important part of a successful quit smoking
As with any endeavor that requires continuous commitment and effort, the main motivation to continue the effort is
to be able to measure benefit(s), such as the achievement of a desired weight from a weight reduction program,
obtaining a high grade of A on an examination after extensive studying or winning the Super Bowl if you are an NFL
football player. Although decreases in blood pressure and heart rate can be observed within 20 minutes of quitting
smoking, these are the only benefits that are immediately measurable. Improved circulation also occurs within 20
minutes of stopping smoking but it is not a readily measurable benefit. Other benefits such as improvement of cough
and shortness of breath usually require weeks to months to be appreciated and benefits such as reduced risk of
cancer, stroke and heart disease occur one to several years after quitting smoking.
Nicotine test kits measure cotinine, one of many metabolites or breakdown products of nicotine which is detectable
in the urine for from five to seven days following tobacco use depending on the particular test and a person’s
metabolism or rate of breakdown of nicotine. Cotinine remains in the bloodstream, urine and saliva longer than any
of the other metabolites and is a good indirect indicator of nicotine concentration in the body.
A urine cotinine concentration between 0 and 10 ng/ml obtained with the TobacAlert test kit signifies a non-smoker with no nicotine exposure, whereas a
concentration between 10 and 30 ng/ml is consistent as a non-smoker with low passive nicotine exposure, also known
as low second-hand exposure. Cotinine levels of between 30 and 100 ng/ml correlate with a non-smoker with higher
degrees of passive nicotine exposure, and concentrations of 100 to 1000+ indicate active cigarette smoking or use
of tobacco products.
In this creative model the level of nicotine exposure of the smoker, as well as family members and other household
contacts is determined by performing nicotine tests with the TobacAlert nicotine test kit at the beginning of the
quit smoking campaign and continued until the smoker has successfully reached a quit date. Testing the smoker from
start date to stop date is designed to provide motivation and positive feedback which is important for success in
quitting smoking. The testing of household contacts at or prior to the start date of the quit smoking initiative is
to provide the smoker with added motivation to begin the quit smoking campaign by providing measurable data to show
the potential harm that his or her smoking habit poses for dear ones if their test results are consistent with
passive nicotine exposure.
Daily urine testing of the smoker and recordings of declining cotinine levels, providing nicotine use is
decreasing, is for the purpose of providing the smoker with measurable positive feedback to continue the quit
smoking campaign, even if the stop date has to be adjusted further into the future. Daily or random testing of
household contacts until the quit smoking date has been reached is for the purpose of providing additional
immediate gratification and reward to the recovered smoker once the cotinine level of the household
contacts reaches the 0 to 10 ng/ml level.
Since relapse is a big problem with many recovered smokers, it might be beneficial to entrust family members,
colleagues and/or friends with license to perform random urine nicotine testing with TobacAlert as a surveillance
safeguard and deterrent to relapse. It is appropriate and recommended that one’s healthcare provider be involved in
the nicotine testing and all aspects of the quit smoking initiative.
Victor E. Battles, M.D.
November 10, 2009
As a board certified internist I recognize the health hazards of use and the need to help patients stop smoking.
As a board certified internist I recognize the health hazards of tobacco use and the need to help patients stop
smoking. Learn more about TobacAlert
and other nicotine test kits.
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