A nicotine test measures the level of nicotine—or the chemicals it produces, such as cotinine—in your blood or urine. 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.
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 cotinine in your blood and urine to drop.
Author: Healthwise Staff Clinical Review Board: All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.