first became aware of biometric screening or
screening for cotinine in truckers from a post on TruckingBoards.com.
The author of the post urged truck drivers who are tobacco users to stop using tobacco products because it could mean a savings of $10 per week. (Multiply $10 per week by 52 weeks per year and that's $520 savings per year.)
According to the post, a firm called Bravo Wellness would be taking blood samples from those so targeted for the purpose (probably among other things) of determining cotinine levels.
What is Cotinine?
Never having heard or read that word before, Vicki did some research and learned three significant things:
According to the Foundation for Blood Research:
Cotinine [COAT-e-neen] is a chemical that is made by the body from nicotine, which is found in cigarette smoke. Since cotinine can be made only from nicotine, and since nicotine enters the body with cigarette smoke, cotinine measurements can show how much cigarette smoke enters your body.
The only way to reduce your cotinine level is to stop or reduce your exposure to cigarette smoke.
Depending on how high your [cotinine] level is to begin with, your level could drop to that of a nonsmoker in 7 to 10 days.
http://www.fbr.org/publications/pamphlets/cotinine.html (reference no longer online)
LabTestsOnline.org states that the reason for nicotine and cotinine testing is:
Temporary vs. Permanent Cessation
We certainly applaud anyone who wants to quit smoking (and quit using any and all tobacco products), but for your health's sake, it should be a permanent cessation.
If you know that a biometric screening for cotinine is coming up, you should also make your cessation of tobacco products permanent for your conscience's sake, too.
What purpose could a temporary cessation of smoking have other than to "fool" those doing the wellness screening into thinking that your cotinine level is always that low?
How extensive is a wellness screening likely to be? We speculate that in our day, if the blood sample of a trucker who has temporarily stopped smoking shows even a low level of cotinine, then a secondary biometric screening could be requested on a hair sample. If the hair sample shows a disproportionate amount of cotinine, that could raise some real questions.
We prefer to think of truckers and their home support teams as honest folks who are full of integrity and transparency -- and encourage them to remain so.
Smoking, Health Insurance and Costs
It is well known that insurance premiums are higher (rated up) for smokers than non-smokers because the health expenses of smokers is generally higher.
In the past, we have been asked when applying for health insurance if we have "ever" smoked. It doesn't matter how many years ago or how much. Our answer helps determine what our health insurance premium will be.
The author of the post linked above is obviously trying to help out his fellow truckers by telling them about a way to save money. But just imagine how much more money tobacco-using truckers could save if:
Biometric Screening for Other Drugs
Some trucking companies (and even some truck driver training schools) are using biometric screening for other drugs. Besides doing blood screening, they may be doing screening on samples of urine, saliva and hair.
We described on our student driver page about a guy who was expelled from our truck driver training school because he failed a drug test for crack cocaine. If he couldn't even "stay clean" in school, there was no way he could be expected to do so while driving professionally.
A September 20, 2011 article from The Journal of Commerce stated:
Truckload operator Gordon Trucking is tightening pre-hire screening of driver applicants, requiring hair samples for drug testing well as urine samples.
Hair testing is more expensive than urine testing but can detect drug abuse over a longer period. Almost twice as many samples test positive than in urine tests.
Money saving tip: Truck drivers, by virtue of their occupations, need to be ready to undergo random drug testing at any time. Biometric screening can be performed on a blood sample or samples of urine, saliva or hair. It is best that drivers (and even potential drivers) endeavor to live as free as possible from all drugs and tobacco products so that they cannot be implicated as a contributor in the event of an accident.
According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's national program Tobacco Policy Research and Evaluation Program, "Researchers concluded that nicotine is a drug and that cigarettes qualify as drug-delivery devices under the definition of current food and drug laws."
If you think that lowering your cotinine level is important enough to pass a wellness screening, we encourage you to think highly enough about your health to permanently lower your level by quitting smoking and other types of tobacco use. You can save a lot of money as a result.
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