Use of Expired Air Carbon Monoxide Testing in Clinical Tobacco Treatment Settings

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Abstract

Carbon monoxide (CO) testing is considered an easy, noninvasive, and objective contribution to the assessment of smoking behavior, as CO is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream when lit cigarettes or cigars are inhaled. CO testing is a medically important billable outpatient service that can contribute to sustainability of face to face tobacco use treatment services by clinicians. This article reviews research on the clinical use of CO testing to provide biomedical feedback in assessing smoking behavior, educating smokers on tobacco health effects, assisting with treatment planning, and as a motivational tool to encourage people to become tobacco free. Further research can focus on how to best incorporate CO testing into clinical practice, including more research on outcomes and methods to ensure that insurers reimburse for testing and improved ways to use CO testing to initiate attempts to quit tobacco use, to maintain cessation, and to prevent relapse.

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