Nicotine Tests

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Topic Overview

A nicotine test measures the level of nicotine-or the chemicals it produces-in your body. It's usually done by testing a sample of your blood or urine. The test is used to see if you smoke or use other forms of tobacco.  

All forms of tobacco have nicotine. This includes pipe tobacco, cigars, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and snuff. It also includes e-cigarettes and quit-smoking aids like nicotine gum and nicotine patches.

Your body breaks down nicotine into several chemicals, such as cotinine, that can be found by these tests.

You may be asked to have a test when you apply for a job. And some health and life insurance companies require a test before they take you as a client. This is because people who smoke tend to have higher health costs over the long run.  

One type of test can help tell the difference between a person who uses tobacco, a person who recently quit, and a person who doesn't use tobacco but has been exposed to a lot of secondhand smoke.  

If you no longer smoke but are using a quit-smoking aid like gum or a patch, your test result may be positive. But you may be able to get another test that can show that you are using quit-smoking aids and not tobacco.  

When you stop using nicotine, it can take more than 2 weeks for the levels of nicotine and cotinine in your blood to drop. It takes a few more weeks than that for the levels in your urine to drop.

Related Information

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2014). Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 5th ed. St. Louis: Mosby.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerLisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry

Current as ofMarch 20, 2017