The relation of urinary cotinine measurements to tobacco consumption in smokers and to exposure to other people's smoke in non-smokers was studied in 49 smokers and 184 reported non-smokers attending a health screening centre. The median urinary cotinine concentration was 1623 ng/ml in the smokers and 6.1 ng/ml in the non-smokers. In smokers the average urinary cotinine concentration increased with reported habitual cigarette consumption; in non-smokers it increased with the reported total seven day duration of exposure to other people's tobacco smoke. Cotinine concentrations were approximately three times higher in non-smokers living with a spouse or partner who was a smoker than in those living with a non-smoker; their reported duration of exposure to tobacco smoke was also three times higher. Non-smoking subjects who were exposed to any tobacco smoke and who lived with a smoker reported 70% of their exposure to be at home (56% for men and 86% for women); the men reported more exposure at work than non-smoking men who lived with a non-smoker. This study confirms the relation of urinary cotinine to stated tobacco smoke exposure in both smokers and non-smokers and further validates the use of information on the smoking habits of the spouse or partner as a measure of tobacco smoke exposure in epidemiological studies of non-smokers.
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