To review the literature on the use of urinary cotinine as a biological marker of cigarette smoke exposure.


Narrative review of original and review articles on the topic of interest, published in Portuguese or English by June 2018, and selected in the following online databases: PubMed and Virtual Health Library (VHL).


Urinary cotinine is usually the recommended biomarker to estimate exposure to cigarette smoke, and can be used alone or, preferably, in association with questionnaires. Different analytical techniques can be used to quantify urinary cotinine and are differently performed because of urine sample interfering factors.


The precise classification of smoking status is essential. It is advisable to use objective measurements regarding smoking habits since self-reported smoking may not always represent the true smoking status of the individual, particularly in groups that are more vulnerable to omitting the information of questionnaries, in addition, it has possible biases of memory. The accurate assessment of smoking is crucial to improve clinical management and counseling for different diseases as well as the establishment of preventive strategies. So, the use of urinary cotinine as a biomarker of cigarette smoke exposure seems to be a suitable assay to distinguish non-smokers from passive and active smokers.

Keywords: Biomarkers, Cotinine, Smoking, Exposure, Tobacco Smoke Pollution, Environmental Biomarkers.
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