- What looks like a simple question is not. How long you can detect nicotine use depends on the type of test used, the amount of nicotine product used, and the characteristics of the user.
- Let’s take the issue of the type of test used: Urine tests will detect nicotine for up to 10 days after use, depending on the amount used and characteristics of the user. For most individuals, whose use is within the average range, say of 70 to 140 puffs per day, detection will be up to 4 or 5 days. Heavier users, such as those inhaling 300 puffs per day, will show positive on urine tests for 5 to 6 days. Very heavy users, taking 600 puffs per day, may show positive for 6 or 7 days. About 0.1% (that is, one user in a thousand) of users will show positive for up to 10 days.
- Urine tests also vary in sensitivity. The average 200 ng/mL test is less sensitive than a 100 ng/mL vapor test, such as the NicoTest® Vapor Test. A NicoTest® Vapor Test will detect nicotine up to 12 hours longer than a standard nicotine test.
- Now, lets look at the type of test used. Saliva tests will detect nicotine use for up to about 4 days, again depending on intensity of use. This is like blood tests.
- Saliva testing, like blood testing, will show use immediately after ingestion, whereas urine tests require metabolism of nicotine, so such tests will not show use for up to four hours after ingestion.Saliva tests, such as the NicoTests® Saliva Test are generally considered the gold standard for nicotine test since (1) they detect use almost immediately after ingestion, and (2) their window of detection of four days is more reliable than the more extended window of urine tests, thus allow repeated testing without fear of picking up “old” use.
Nicotine tests only detect Cotinine, a breakdown product created when nicotine in metabolized in the body. No other drugs cross-react with cotinine, so false positives due to other drugs do not occur. However, drugs containing nicotine, such as nicotine patches, lozenges or gums, will, of course, show up as a nicotine positive, since they are nicotine products.
If you are using a urine test, it is best to wait about 5 days after a positive test, to allow the individual being tested to clear all nicotine from their body. If you are using a saliva test, four days is sufficient to assure that nicotine has left the body.
You will not test positive for nicotine or any drug test from just being around it. To test positive from second hand smoke you would need to be in a sealed room with heavy smokers for 8 hours.