Introduction Self-reported tobacco use in the United Arab Emirates is among the highest in the region. Use of tobacco products other than cigarettes is widespread, but little is known about specific behavior use patterns. There have been no studies that have biochemically verified smoking status. Methods The UAE Healthy Future Study (UAEHFS) seeks to understand the causes of non-communicable diseases through a 20,000-person cohort study. During the study pilot, 517 Emirati nationals were recruited to complete a questionnaire, provide clinical measurements and biological samples. Complete smoking data were available for 428 participants. Validation of smoking status via cotinine testing was conducted based on complete questionnaire data and matching urine samples for 399 participants, using a cut-off of 200ng/ml to indicate active smoking status. Results Self-reported tobacco use was 36% among men and 3% among women in the sample. However, biochemical verification of smoking status revealed that 42% men and 9% of women were positive for cotinine indicating possible recent tobacco use. Dual and poly-use of tobacco products was fairly common with 32% and 6% of the sample reporting respectively. Conclusions This is the first study in the region to biochemically verify tobacco use self-report data. Tobacco use in this study population was found to be higher than previously thought, especially among women. Misclassification of smoking status was more common than expected. Poly-tobacco use was also very common. Additional studies are needed to understand tobacco use behaviors and the extent to which people may be exposed to passive tobacco smoke. Implications This study is the first in the region to biochemically verify self-reported smoking status.
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