How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System

How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System

It's no secret that the stigma of smoking is growing within our culture. There was a time when smoking was associated with being cool, but modern society is moving away from that image. We now know that inhaling the smoke from combustible cigarettes is extremely harmful and leads to terminal illness is like cancer. And while the powers-that-be fight over the long-term effects of vaping,  our industry will still be grouped with traditional cigarettes for better or worse. This truth becomes increasingly apparent when our future relies heavily on passing a mandatory nicotine test.

Reasons for Testing

While the jury is out on the long-term effects of the brain's exposure to nicotine, the chemical has been falsely blamed or the effects of inhaling carcinogens and has come under fire by our culture. So much so that there are now a number of situations where an individual may be required to submit themself to a nicotine test. The number of insurance companies that require testing prior to the coverage is growing, doctors will require testing before certain surgeries, or even for employers are subjecting candidates to a nicotine test prior to employment. These are just a few instances in modern society where a nicotine test may be mandatory and can dramatically affect your future. 

How They Test

When you are tested for nicotine, the test is typically looking for cotinine. Cotinine lasts longer in the body and a person would only have cotinine in their body if they have processed nicotine. If you were a smoker previously and switched to a smoking alternative like the patch, gum, or vaping, then the testing lab should be looking for anabasine which is only found in combustible tobacco products and not in nicotine replacement products.

Time In Your System

The bad news is that nicotine enters your blood extremely quickly after inhalation. The good news is that it typically stays in your blood for only 1 to 3 days and is relatively undetectable in your urine after 4 days.  A saliva test can detect nicotine in your system for up to four days. But a hair test can detect nicotine in your system for as long as 3 months after you have stopped using a tobacco product.


If you know that you were going to be tested for nicotine, it is best to stop consuming any nicotine products for 2 to 3 weeks prior to the test. This will ensure that you have the best chance at successfully passing the test and getting the care, coverage, or employment that you need. Thankfully, many vapers aren't chemically addicted to nicotine but more the hand-to-mouth habit. This means that they can utilize 0mg e-liquid to satisfy their habit while ensuring that they are not compromising their future.


What are your thoughts on this subject? Have you had to take a nicotine test lately? Did you pass?  If so, what advice would you give to anyone else trying to pass a nicotine test?

1 comment


    I haven’t run into a situation where I have been required to submit to a nicotine test. If and when I do, I will tell the entity requiring the test that I do indeed consume nicotine, and if they test for cotinine my results will be positive. Then if my use of nicotine is cited as the reason for their refusal to hire me or sell me insurance, I will take them to court and sue on the basis that there is no scientific data evidencing nicotine impairs work performance or shortens my lifespan. If the judge is honest, I will prevail. If the judge is corrupt, I will appeal all the way to the supreme court. It is possible to do so in our day and age, thank you to crowd funding and legal defense organizations that take on important cases free of charge.

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