“I don’t smoke, I only smoke when I’m going out”
he said as he takes a few puffs of his cigarette, outside of a popular bar in downtown Toronto. This event indicates that the warnings on cigarette boxes are effective in communicating the hazards of smoking, but some are still drawn into the culture of smoking and will claim themselves a “Casual Smoker.”
So I paired with a 27 year-old male casual smoker to study how nicotine metabolizes in the body. His average outings are about 2 – 3 times a month, and at each outing he usually buys one pack of cigarettes. He never finishes the pack, has about 4-5 cigarettes and shares the rest among his friends. We paired up and did an analysis where he smoked 2 cigarettes a day for two days and then I tested the nicotine levels in his body.
During the day we saw a decrease from 0.5 ug of nicotine to 0.1 ug in a four hour period. Parts of the concentration can be seen in the concentration of cotinine which is the resulting molecule after degradation by enzymes. This is good news for our casual smokers as they can get their adrenaline high after a cigarette and with the help of the active enzyme P250, nicotine is quickly cleaned out of the system.
Reality hits when we studied concentrations of the nicotine overnight. Concentrations went from 1.4 ug to 2.3 ug. P250 is still working hard for us because we also observed an increase in cotinine from 0.3 ug to 0.6 ug. The relatively higher concentrations are a result of saturation of urine overnight. The same observations were witnessed after one full day of not smoking. Casual smokers might claim that their habits are limited to the evening of the night, but our study shows that effects are prolonged.
It hard to determine how frequent casual smoking occurs before it is considered an addiction. As for now, casual smokers might not be a candidate for the long-term effects of smoking however there are short-term effects they are definitely qualified for.
Concentrations were investigated with GC-MS (Gas Chromatography paired with Mass Spectrometry) and to protect me from the hazards of bodily fluids, I used a SPME (Solid Phase Micro Extraction). Calculation was done using calibration methodology.