How Do You Pass a Nicotine Test? In-Depth Guide

A broken cigarette

While drug tests are commonplace and expected when applying for a new job, more and more US employers are doing nicotine tests as well.

Even if you’ve been vaping or using e-cigarettes instead of smoking, you can still fail nicotine testing.

So, can you avoid testing positive if you’ve been smoking recently? Yes, you can.

We’ll explain everything you should know about nicotine testing and the best ways to pass a nicotine drug test.

Why Do People Get Tested For Nicotine?A urine sample for nicotine test

People need to do a nicotine test in several situations.

A nicotine test is commonly done before or during employment, together with a urine test.

A urine sample is checked for any toxins that aren’t allowed, including nicotine.

If you work in a sensitive field, such as caring professions — doctor, nurse, social worker, etc. — you’ll be tested for commonly abused substances.

Other instances when you may be required to do a nicotine test include:

  • Taking part in smoking cessation programs
  • Court-ordered testing in child custody cases
  • Before a surgery
  • For employment purposes
  • If your doctor suspects you’re suffering from nicotine overdose
  • For health or life insurance

Life Insurance Nicotine Test

If you want to apply for life insurance, you have to submit to various medical tests, including a test for nicotine. These tests determine your overall health and the risk of death.

If the results of a life insurance nicotine test are positive, this can reduce your life insurance policy premiums.

Note: Even if you aren’t using cigars currently but have nicotine in your system, insurance companies may give you a lower insurance premium compared to non-smokers.

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

University of Michigan Health

As you can see, no matter if you smoke cigars, chew tobacco, or use nicotine patches, you can test positive. To avoid something like this, you should know how long nicotine stays in your system.

How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System?Stethoscope with a cut out of lungs and 2 piece of cigarette

Nicotine levels in your body rise immediately after you light up a cigarette, without even taking one drag.

However, the amount of nicotine in your body depends on how much you inhale and how much nicotine the cigarette has.

Your age, diet, health condition, the use of medications [1], the level of activity, and whether you’re a heavy or a light smoker also affect how long nicotine stays in your body.

So, how long does nicotine stay in your system? Two hours after you ingest it, the body will remove half of it [2].

Because of this short half-life, the effects fade quickly, and soon you feel like you need another dose.

How Long Does Cotinine Stay in Your System?

One thing that’s important to know here is cotinine. This is nicotine’s main breakdown product. While nicotine will stay in your system up to 3 days after you stop smoking cigarettes, cotinine can be detected for up to 10 days.

Note: This is the approximate amount of time for an average user. However, cotinine can be detected in the body for up to three months after ingestion in some cases. This depends on how frequently you ingested nicotine and how you did it.

When it comes to urine tests, nicotine and cotinine won’t be detected after 3-4 days after your last cigar.

Saliva tests are most commonly done for nicotine detection, and they will detect nicotine in your system for up to four days.

Nicotine will stay in your bloodstream only for 1-3 days, while cotinine can remain in your body for up to 10 days

If you’re a chronic smoker, saliva and blood tests will show nicotine even after you stop nicotine use.

Hair testing is arguably the most reliable way to test for the presence of nicotine, as it stays in hair longer compared to urine and blood. If you have long hair, we’ve got some bad news. Drug tests can detect nicotine in your hair for up to a year.

If you have short hair, the average nicotine detection period is 1-3 months.

One thing to keep in mind: If you’re trying to quit cigars and are using replacement treatments, or you use menthol cigarettes or have regular exposure to cigars, the test will still detect nicotine in your system.

To avoid testing positive, you should stay away from using any products that contain nicotine for at least a week.

Is Nicotine Detectable in Drug Test?Broken cigarette

Yes, nicotine is detectable in drug tests. However, a nicotine test doesn’t actually check for nicotine; it checks for cotinine.

This is because nicotine leaves the body easily, and it’s more difficult to detect it.

Instead, a cotinine test is done because cotinine can be detected for longer, and you’ll only have cotinine in your body if you’ve used nicotine [3].

Cotinine test includes testing urine or blood. If it’s a blood test, a lab technician will use a needle to draw blood from your vein to collect a sample.

If it’s a urine cotinine test, you’ll be asked to submit a urine sample, same as you would for drug testing.

A nicotine drug test comes in two options:

  • Qualitative — Tests only for nicotine detection.
  • Quantitative — Tests nicotine and cotinine concentration. This shows if you’re an active smoker or a non-smoker. It can show how much smoke you’ve inhaled.

Also, a nicotine test can be done in:

  • A lab — It’s more accurate.
  • On-site — It’s inexpensive but can be valid in court if a lab report backs it up.

Best Ways to Pass a Nicotine TestA calendar countdown of not smoking

We’ve talked about how nicotine usage affects you and how long does nicotine stay in your system.

If you’re facing a life insurance nicotine test or a cotinine test in the near future, here’s what to do.

Passing a nicotine drug test isn’t different from any other sort of drug testing.

Here’re a few tricks that’ll speed up how quickly your body gets rid of tobacco:

  • Stop all tobacco use at least 5-7 days before a drug test. If you’re a chronic smoker, do it earlier, as your body will need more time for a complete toxin rid.
  • Cut out fatty foods, as the more fat you have, the longer it’ll take your body to complete the toxin rid.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat foods rich in antioxidants.
  • Use detox drinks — Increase fluid intake throughout the day for natural detox. You should drink:
    • Filtered water: Drink half a gallon a day to ensure the toxins are removed from your body.
    • Warm water with lemon, garlic, or ginger: This will help you achieve toxin rid.
    • Tea with ginger, juniper, and dandelion root because they have diuretic properties.
    • Cranberry juice for the best natural detox.

Don’t underestimate the importance of exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Nicotine attaches to your body’s fat cells, and even if you last smoked weeks ago, you could still be releasing nicotine metabolites, which will show on drug tests.

If a drug test can detect trace amounts of nicotine in your system, you can claim the results are false positives, blame it on secondhand smoke and ask for a drug test to be repeated.

Now that we’ve covered a few valuable tricks let’s talk about how to pass every kind of drug test separately.

1. How to Pass a Nicotine Blood Test
A blood sample in a tube

A blood drug test for detecting nicotine is rare because both nicotine and cotinine only stay in the bloodstream for a few hours for light smokers and three days for very heavy smokers.

Although it’s extremely rare, there’s some evidence that cotinine can stay in the blood for ten days [4].

If your blood test is more than three days away, you’re all set.

But, if it’s in a day, there’s not much you can do apart from natural detox. Drink as many detox drinks as possible to achieve fast toxin rid.

Once you give the blood sample in a lab, you can get the results between 2 to 10 days.

2. How to Pass a Nicotine Test: Mouth Swab
A woman getting a saliva sample

Cotinine is detected for up to 7 days in a saliva test, but for heavy smokers, this can be up to 14 days.

A saliva test is easy to pass. After you stop smoking, you just need to wash your teeth several times a day and use a mouthwash.

You can use a product such as Oral Clear Gum, which comes in capsule or liquid form.

You can pretend it’s medicine or something you’re taking for gum health.

Note: This product is effective for half an hour max, so it’s a great tool if you are tested on the spot.

The testing is done by a technician who swabs the inside of your mouth. Results usually take from 24 to 72 hours.

3. Urine TestA urine sample in a sealed container for urine test

This is the most common type of testing, and it’s also commonly done when applying for health insurance.

You have several options for cheating on a urine test.

You can use a detox drink, which can flush out the toxins from your urinary tract.

But, keep in mind that these are effective only for a couple of hours.

Your second option is to use synthetic urine. When it’s time to give your sample, simply switch your urine with a synthetic one.

There are several manufacturers that are trustworthy, and the package comes with detailed instructions, so you’ll know exactly what to do.

If you choose this option, make sure to keep synthetic urine at the prescribed temperature; otherwise, you’ll fail.

These tests can be done at home or in a lab, and the test results are usually done in 1-5 days.

4. Hair TestA sample of hair putting inside a tube

This is the least used method because it’s the most expensive.

Toxins will stay in your hair for a long time. Legally, the hair length that can be tested is from the follicle up to one and a half inches, as this is how long your hair can grow in 90 days.

If you need to do this test, your only option is the Macujo method.

The Macujo method includes using special ingredients, and it will take about an hour of your time each time you wash your hair. You should wash your hair with these ingredients for up to five days.

Results are usually done in about one to five days.

Passing a Nicotine Drug Test Takeaways

We’ve discussed everything you should know about a nicotine test. Now you know why it is done, how long it stays in your system and some of the best ways to cheat on any type of nicotine testing.

Whether you have an upcoming surgery, are in a child custody battle, or your employer wants to test you, your best bet is to cease cigar use.

If you don’t have several weeks to get rid of toxins naturally, you can try some of the methods of passing a nicotine test we’ve discussed above.

Find out what kind of test you’ll undergo, and get ready beforehand. As long as you follow all the instructions listed here, there’s nothing to worry about.



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