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 initiative.

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.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice or a substitute for medical consultation with a qualified professional. If you are seeking legal advice or are unsure about your medical condition you should consult an attorney and/or physician.

Author's Bio: 

Victor E. Battles, M.D. is a board-certified internist with 30 + years of patient contact, and is the founder of Proactive Health Outlet, a resource providing self-help for improving health. Learn more about TobacAlert and other nicotine test kits at Proactive Health Outlet.