How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your Body System?

How long does nicotine stay in your body


Many people start to be aware and wonder how long nicotine stay in our body system. As we can see, employers are keen on testing their employees for nicotine content. For many employers, it is a pre-condition for employment and can be seen as judgment for the cost of health insurance.

The unfortunate part is that employers often make the mistake of putting cigarette smokers and vapers in the same category. Even those who use nicotine gum, which has the approval of the FDA is often considered as having a health risk by many employers.

Insurance companies are rigid about the presence of nicotine in the blood of the person. They believe this to be a reliable factor, and often such persons are considered to be users of tobacco. They are also considered to be users of NRT products. Vapers, gum chewers and patch users are also categorized as ex-smokers even after they have given it up for 90 days.

However, there are some things that one must bear in mind. When we try to find answers to the question, how long does nicotine stay in the blood, we must understand that most testing does not look for nicotine content.

How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your Body System?

There may not be accurate tests to measure nicotine in the human body. Since nicotine normally stay in our body system for 1-3 days(24 -72 hours), the job becomes even more difficult after 24 to 72 hours as far as blood samples are concerned. Urine samples also may not show any trace of nicotine after four days or 96 hours.

Hence, it is not surprising when employers and even insurance companies are no longer concerned as to how long nicotine would say in the body. They instead look for a substance called cotinine. It is a derived nicotine metabolite. Nicotine is metabolized into cotinine by the liver. It can remain detectable in the body for around three weeks, but in most cases, it remains detectable for about one week.

Gender, ethnic background, medications, or diet will influence how long cotinine stay in the body system. Men, in general, tend to retain cotinine in their systems when compared to women. The cut-points or threshold limits of cotinine in the body has also changed with time.

How Do You Test for Nicotine in Your System?

Blood Test

How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your Body System-blood test

There could be many types of tests to measure levels of cotinine.

Blood tests are often the most accurate and can detect both cotinine and nicotine. It is also expensive, and of course, it is invasive and therefore not very frequently used when compared to other methods. Drawing of blood asks for operating by a trained person, and a visit to the lab, which makes it time-consuming and expensive for both the employer and the employee.

Two types of the blood test are conducted for cotinine. The first one is simple and is a positive or negative test that does not mention the quantity that has been found. There is one more test which can specify the exact level of nicotine metabolite as far as the blood serum is concerned.

Saliva Test

Saliva testing is one of the most sensitive amongst the conventional methods of testing for nicotine. Many labs and insurance companies have, therefore moved to saliva testing in the last few years. Saliva tests can detect cotinine levels at a much higher threshold, and it could be as high as 33% more when compared to blood serum. In other words, the saliva test might show a 33% higher level of cotinine when compared to blood. It could be around 7% more when compared to that of the urine test. However, what makes saliva test so very popular is perhaps the ease of testing.

It can be done easily. Employers collect saliva in a special kit that is supplied by third-party labs. The swab is done of the person’s mouth, and the swab is put into a self-sealing container. It is then shipped to the laboratory. The tests are then sent back to the employer or the insurance companies either by phone or online, which is preferred because it is not as expensive and time-saving comparatively.

Urine Test

Urine often has a six times higher concentration of cotinine than saliva or blood, which makes it an ideal choice for detecting low amounts of cotinine. This test can also be done quite easily. The test strip is soaked with a urine sample for a few minutes. The results are found almost immediately, and it states whether the finding is negative or positive.

Hair Test


Hair samples are also used as a reliable method for testing cotinine. But it is quite a complicated testing method. It also is the slowest and perhaps the most expensive. Hair tests are sought when other tests are not clear and if the findings are in doubt. It also is used for various scientific studies. Hair samples can retain cotinine even for a period as long as 90 days.

Do All Life Insurance Companies Test for Nicotine?

Most insurance companies go in for nicotine or cotinine testing for health insurance. Some also do it for life insurance purposes. Some insurance companies are seen changing with time and are not rigid about changing guidelines. They are now allowing many policyholders to go in for vaping and they are not disqualified for getting better health insurance premiums.

If you are looking for life insurance in the market, it makes sense to shop a bit and put forward as many questions as you possibly can think of. You may be able to find more about nicotine use that is not too risky. There is one company that is offering life insurance for those who are vapers.

How To Avoid Nicotine Test Positive?


If you look around, you will come across many products that talk about nicotine-free  and other various drugs. However, it is not sure whether they are trustworthy and reliable. We need to understand that heavy smokers stand a good chance of testing negative after a far-from-nicotine week . In most cases, the test will show negative after two weeks. Drinking a lot of water and fluids could help to flush out the system.

Talking about the future, let us hope that insurance companies and employers can find out the difference between regular smokers and those who are into safe smoking. This will stop treating vapers with the wrong at of the stick. After we have a general idea on how long does nicotine stay in our body system and how the test work, we should know that the most reliable way forward is to stop smoking at least two weeks before the test. Because in most cases, you would know well before that an employer might call you for a job.

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One thought on “How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your Body System?

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