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    How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System?

    When nicotine is smoked, chewed, or inhaled through secondhand smoke, it’s absorbed into your blood. But how long does it stay in your system? Find out.

    How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System?

    Medically reviewed by University of Illinois — Written by Neel Duggal — Updated on March 7, 2019

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    How long does nicotine last?

    Whenever you smoke or chew tobacco, or inhale secondhand smoke from a cigarette, nicotine is absorbed into your bloodstream.

    From there, enzymes in your liver break most of the nicotine down to become cotinine. The amount of cotinine will be proportionate to the amount of nicotine you ingested. These substances are eventually eliminated through your kidneys as urine.

    Cotinine, nicotine’s main breakdown product, can usually be detected in your body for up to three months after ingestion. How long it stays in your system will depend on how you ingested the nicotine and how frequently.

    Keep reading to learn how long nicotine can be detected in your urine, blood, saliva, and hair.

    How long will traces of nicotine be present in your urine?


    If I smoke one cigarette, how much nicotine will I ingest?

    Anonymous patient


    Although there’s some variance between types of cigarettes, it’s estimated that one cigarette contains 12 milligrams (mg) of nicotine. Your body will absorb about 1 mg of this nicotine into your bloodstream.

    Once the nicotine is in your bloodstream, it’s measured in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). The bloodstream of a nonsmoker with no secondhand smoke exposure has cotinine levels less than 1 ng/mL. The level of an average daily smoker is normally higher than 10 ng/mL and can even be as high as 500ng/mL. The average is between 30 and 50 ng/mL.

    Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

    If you smoke infrequently, cotinine will usually be present in your urine for about four days. With regular exposure to nicotine, cotinine may be detectable for up to three weeks after your last exposure.

    A positive urine test depends on when you provide a urine sample relative to the last time you ingested nicotine. If you’re a current smoker, the test may be positive at 1,000 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). If you haven’t smoked in over two weeks, a positive test may be over 30 ng/mL. Each lab may have different reference ranges for positivity, so it’s important to discuss the results with your doctor.

    How long will traces of nicotine be present in your blood?

    Nicotine lasts in your bloodstream for one to three days, and cotinine can be detected in your blood for up to 10 days.

    Nicotine in your blood can be detected using tests that are qualitative (whether nicotine is present) and quantitative (how much nicotine is present). These tests can detect nicotine, cotinine, and another breakdown product called anabasine.

    False positives for nicotine are common with blood testing. This is usually because of the presence of a compound called thiocyanate. It’s found in foods like broccoli and cabbage and certain medications.

    How long will traces of nicotine be present in your saliva and hair follicles?

    Nicotine and cotinine can take up to four days to be fully flushed from your saliva.

    Traces of nicotine can generally be found in your hair follicles for up to three months after your last exposure. Depending on the hair test used, nicotine may be detected for up to a year after your last exposure.

    Although hair testing is possible, it isn’t used as frequently as urine, saliva, or blood testing. That’s because hair testing generally costs more.


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    Q&A: How to determine how much nicotine is in your system


    How can I determine how much nicotine is in my system? Are there tests that I can do at home?

    Anonymous patient


    It’s possible to buy over-the-counter urine or saliva tests to check nicotine in your system. These tests generally give a “yes” or “no” answer — they often don’t tell you how much nicotine is in your system. These products aren’t routinely recommended by doctors, so their reliability and accuracy remain unclear compared to the tests run through an employment office or doctor’s office.

    University of Illinois-Chicago, School of Medicine

    Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

    What factors influence how long nicotine stays in your system?

    Although there are general guidelines for how long nicotine will stay in your system, this varies from person to person. Depending on your individual circumstances, nicotine may flush from your system sooner or even last longer.

    How frequently you smoke

    People who smoke are generally divided into three different categories:

    Light users, or people who smoke only once per week

    Source : www.healthline.com

    How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System?

    Can a drug test show nicotine use? The answer depends on a few variables, including the type of test as well as your metabolism and nicotine habits.


    How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System?

    How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System? Nicotine in Your Blood, Urine, Hair, & Saliva

    By Buddy T Updated on April 19, 2020

    Medically reviewed by Armeen Poor, MD

    krisanapong detraphiphat / Getty Images

    Table of Contents VIEW ALL

    How Long Does It Take to Feel Effects?

    How Long Does Nicotine Last?

    Factors That Affect Detection Time

    How to Get Nicotine Out of Your System

    Symptoms of Overdose

    If you are applying for a new job or looking for life or health insurance, don't be surprised if you have to take a drug test—which may include testing for nicotine. In fact, smoke-free hiring practices have become increasingly common. Depending on where you live, you can legally be denied a job due to your nicotine habits.1

    Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that is found in all tobacco products, including cigarettes, pipes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and snuff. E-cigarettes and vapes contain nicotine as well. While nicotine is not considered a controlled substance, it is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18 in the United States. Some states have raised the minimum age to 21.2

    Your body breaks down nicotine into many chemicals, including cotinine, which can also be detected in certain tests. Cotinine is only found in your body if you have processed nicotine and, in general, it stays in the body longer than nicotine itself.

    How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System?

    Urine: Up to four days

    Blood: Up to four days

    Saliva: Up to four days

    Hair: Up to 90 days

    How Long Does It Take to Feel Effects?

    Nicotine acts quickly in the body. When smoked, the substance enters the bloodstream and makes it to the brain within 20 seconds.3 Nicotine is a stimulant, but smokers often experience paradoxical feelings of relaxation even though the substance actually increases activity in the central nervous system.

    The effects of nicotine depend on how the drug is administered. Chewing or snorting nicotine-containing products can cause more of the substance to be released in the body than if it was smoked.

    After it's taken, people quickly experience a surge in adrenaline that has a stimulating effect on the body, increasing blood pressure and heart rate. It also increases the levels of a brain chemical called dopamine, which can improve mood and increase feelings of pleasure.

    How Long Does Nicotine Last?

    Nicotine has a half-life of about two hours.4 The half-life is the amount of time it takes for half of a dose to be eliminated from the body.

    When nicotine is smoked as a cigarette or other tobacco product, it is mostly absorbed into the body through the lungs. Less often, nicotine is absorbed through the membranes in the mouth and throat. If you chew tobacco or use nicotine gum, lozenges, or patches, nicotine can also be absorbed in your gastrointestinal tract or skin.

    Nicotine is mainly metabolized in the liver, but also in the lungs and kidneys. It is excreted mostly via urine through the kidneys, and some nicotine is excreted in feces. Nicotine can also be found in saliva and hair.

    As your body metabolizes nicotine, it is broken down by liver enzymes into metabolites that include cotinine. Nicotine tests usually look for cotinine rather than for nicotine itself.


    The amount of cotinine in your urine will vary depending on how frequently and how much you use nicotine. On average, nicotine can be detected in urine for about three days. Regular smokers may have detectable levels for as long as 15 to 20 days. Urine tests are done at home or in a lab, with results returned within 24 hours to five days.


    Blood tests can detect nicotine as well as its metabolites, including cotinine and anabasine. Nicotine itself may be present in the blood for only 48 hours, while cotinine may be detectable for up to three weeks. After blood is drawn in a lab, results can take from two to 10 days.


    Saliva tests can also be used to detect the presence of nicotine for about 24 hours.5 Cotinine can be detected for up to seven days after the last use, or up to 14 days in heavy smokers. Dry mouth or excessive salivation are two issues that can sometimes pose problems with collecting a sample.

    To perform this test, a technician will swab the inside of your mouth and test oral fluids for nicotine. Results can take 24 to 72 hours.


    As with other substances, hair follicle testing can detect the presence of nicotine for a much longer period of time. This method tends to be less common, however, because it is usually more expensive. Done at home or in a lab, the test requires the removal of a small amount of hair to be tested for repeated nicotine use over the last 90 days. Results typically take one to five days.

    False Positive Testing

    A compound called thiocyanate, which is found in some medications and foods including broccoli, garlic, radishes, almonds, and cabbage, can result in a false positive blood test result. Vegetarians may have elevated levels of this substance in their blood due to increased consumption of thiocyanate-containing foods.

    Source : www.verywellmind.com

    How long does nicotine stay in your system? Smoking and vaping

    After smoking a cigarette, nicotine and its by-products stay in a person’s urine and saliva for 4 days and blood for up to 10 days. In this article, we look at whether this differs between smoking and vaping, what withdrawal feels like, and if people can affect how long it takes to clear their system of nicotine.

    How long does nicotine stay in your system?

    Medically reviewed by Alan Carter, Pharm.D. — Written by Danielle Dresden on January 6, 2020

    The safety and long-term health effects of using e-cigarettes or other vaping products still aren’t well known. In September 2019, federal and state health authorities began investigating an outbreak of a severe lung disease associated with e-cigarettes and other vaping products

    Trusted Source Trusted Source

    . We’re closely monitoring the situation and will update our content as soon as more information is available.

    When people use tobacco products, some of the nicotine stays in their system after they quit smoking. Medical tests can detect nicotine in people’s urine, blood, saliva, hair, and nails.

    Nicotine is the addictive substance in tobacco, cigarettes, and vapes or e-cigarettes.

    When someone smokes a cigarette, their body absorbs up to 90 percent

    Trusted Source Trusted Source

    of the nicotine. Traces of nicotine will linger long after individuals no longer feel the effects.

    In this article, we look at how long it takes for the body to remove nicotine, and whether it is possible to get nicotine out of your system faster.

    How long does nicotine stay in the body?

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    Tobacco, cigarettes, and e-cigarettes contain nicotine.

    Two hours after ingesting nicotine, the body will have removed around half of the nicotine. This means that nicotine has a half-life of around 2 hours.

    This short half-life means that the immediate effects of nicotine go away quickly, so people soon feel like they need another dose.

    When nicotine enters the body, it is broken down into more than 20 different substances, including cotinine, anabasine, and nornicotine. People eventually excrete these by-products in their urine.

    Doctors can use nicotine tests to measure levels of nicotine and its by-products in a person’s:

    urine blood saliva hair nails

    According to the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, it can take over 2 weeks for a person’s blood to reach the same cotinine levels as someone who does not use tobacco. It takes several more weeks for the urine levels to become very low.

    Traces of nicotine may stay in the hair for longer, though people are rarely asked to do a hair test unless they are taking part in research.

    The more someone smokes, and the higher the frequency of smoking, the longer nicotine takes to leave the body.

    The exact length of time it takes for nicotine to clear differs between people

    Trusted Source Trusted Source :

    Nicotine may stay in the body for longer in adults aged over 65 years.

    Women tend to process nicotine more quickly than men, especially if they are taking birth control pills.

    The body will take longer to remove nicotine in people who have smoked more frequently and for longer.

    How long does nicotine withdrawal last?

    The severity and timescale of physical withdrawal symptoms will vary, depending on how much an individual smokes.

    A paper from 2010 Trusted Source Trusted Source

    suggests that people who smoke five or fewer cigarettes a day may not have intense physical symptoms because their bodies are less dependent on nicotine. However, they may still have emotional ties to smoking.

    Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are at their worst a few days to a couple of weeks after smoking. The first week is usually the most difficult, and symptoms gradually reduce over the following few weeks.

    The physical and psychological effects of nicotine withdrawal include:

    anxiety or stress irritability trouble sleeping depression restlessness difficulty focusing increased appetite

    Once the physical symptoms are gone, and all nicotine has left a person’s body, they may still feel a psychological desire to smoke. Often, this is often because they are used to the habit of smoking.

    The desire for nicotine may be worse in triggering situations. Examples of these may include times of stress or when having drinks with friends. Over time, these triggers become much less powerful.

    Smoking vs. vaping

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    Studies on inhaled nicotine levels from vapes are currently inconclusive.

    Nicotine tests can also detect nicotine in the body when people have used an electronic cigarette or a vape.

    Vaping is a relatively recent invention, and so little research has looked into its short- and long-term effects. Researchers do not yet know whether the body processes nicotine differently from cigarettes or vapes.

    The current research has produced mixed results

    Trusted Source Trusted Source

    . Some studies say that vaping delivers less nicotine than cigarettes, while others say that the levels of cotinine and nicotine might be higher in people who use vapes.

    Also, it is difficult to tell how much nicotine people inhale from vaping. This is because vape solutions contain different quantities of nicotine. Furthermore, labeling has shown inaccuracy with a -89 to 28 percent

    Source : www.medicalnewstoday.com

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