Your Ultimate Guide To The Nicotine Test


Many people are keen to know how long nicotine stays in the body because they don’t want to pay too much for their health insurance, or because their employer tests them for nicotine as part of their work conditions. Even though it’s unfair, employers often fail to distinguish between vaping nicotine and smoking cigarettes, and even those who use alternatives like nicotine gum may be treated as a health risk by companies.

However, if you’re asking how long does nicotine stay in blood, or how long does it take for nicotine to leave your system, you need to know that the majority of tests are not actually for nicotine itself but for something called cotinine. Nicotine is metabolised into cotinine by the liver and it can then remain detectable for as long as 3 weeks in some cases, although usually closer to one week depending on your gender, ethnicity and diet.

There are a number of tests which are used to measure the level of cotinine in the body including:

Blood Testing

While blood tests are very accurate for both cotinine and nicotine, they are also very expensive and therefore they aren’t used very frequently. Taking blood demands a visit to a laboratory as well as the use of a trained technician and this is a lot of hassle. There are two types of test – one which is just a positive/negative test and one which specifies the precise amount of nicotine in the system.

Saliva Testing

This is a common testing method and is very sensitive, detecting around a third of the amount of cotinine as a blood test does. It is easy and quick to do and can be carried out using a kit which involves swabbing the individual’s mouth and then sending the swab to a lab.

Urine Testing

Urine has a higher level of cotinine in it than either saliva or blood and this makes it a good choice for detecting a low amount of cotinine. It is a simple test which involves soaking a test strip in a sample of urine for a couple of minutes to see either a negative or positive result.

Hair Testing

The most reliable way of testing for cotinine is to use a hair sample, however this is difficult, slow and expensive. Occasionally it is required if there is some doubt over the result of another form of testing. Nicotine remains in the hair for up to 3 months.

Does Every Insurer Test For Nicotine?

testing nicotineMany insurers test for nicotine before issuing health insureance and some also carrying out testing on those applying for life insurance. However, some companies are beginning to change their guidelines to allow vaping under the terms of their policies. Shopping around and asking questions about whether or not vaping is permissable before choosing a policy provider.

Can I Get Rid Of Nicotine From My System Quickly?

There are some products available to clear the body of nicotine in a couple of days, however their effectiveness is not proven. Hopefully, insurers and employers will soon begin to recognise that there is a difference between smoking and vaping, however until then, the best thing to do is to avoid nicotine for a week or so before the test and to drink plenty of water to flush out the system so that the test will be negative.


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