Urinary concentrations of nicotine were studied in men who did not smoke (27) and in men who smoked cigarettes only (145) or pipes only (48). The median urinary nicotine concentrations were less than 50 ng/ml (the detection limit of the assay for urine tests) in the non-smokers, 1393 ng/ml in the cigarette smokers, and 1048 ng/ml in the pipe smokers. These values were standardised for urinary pH and creatinine concentration to allow for the fact that nicotine excretion is influenced by the acidity of the urine and by urinary flow rate. The high urinary nicotine concentrations in the pipe and cigarette smokers indicated that both types of smoker have relatively high systemic nicotine concentrations. This observation, together with the fact that large prospective studies have shown that pipe smokers have no material excess risk of coronary heart disease whereas cigarette smokers do, provides evidence that nicotine is unlikely to be the major cause of the excess deaths from coronary heart disease in cigarette smokers. This conclusion is consistent with earlier observations based on serum cotinine concentrations in smokers and non-smokers.
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