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Nicotine Tests

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 vapes (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 you can get insurance. This is because people who smoke tend to have higher health costs over time.

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 another few weeks after that for the levels in your urine to drop.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: September 23, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Lisa S. Weinstock MD - Psychiatry

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