Nicotine is an addictive substance produced by a tobacco plant and primarily concentrated in its leaves. It is inhaled by cigarette smoking or ingested by chewing tobacco gum.  Nicotine is responsible for the pleasurable effect of smoking which lasts from 1 to 4 hours.

Because of the many diseases linked to cigarette smoking (e.g. lung cancer, prostate cancer, hypertension, heart disease, etc.), insurance companies may require those who want to avail their insurance products (e.g. life insurance and health insurance) to take a blood test or nicotine test to determine their insurance premium. People who are smoking may have higher insurance premium than people who are not smoking.

Smokers or tobacco gum users who want to avail insurance worry that nicotine show up in their blood tests, causing their insurance premium to increase. They often ask the questions:

  • Will nicotine show up in blood test?
  • How long will nicotine lasts in the body after using the last cigarette stick or chewing the last tobacco gum?
  • Is there any way to flush out the nicotine in my system fast?

Not only insurance buyers worry about nicotine showing in blood test but also job applicants. There are employers who require applicants to undergo blood or nicotine test as a pre-employment requirement. The result of the test can significantly determine whether a particular person will be hired or not. There are employers who are not fan of hiring smokers for various reasons. Like insurance buyers, job applicants ask the question: will nicotine show up in the blood test?

So, will nicotine show up in blood test?

The answer is YES if a specific test for nicotine or any of its primary metabolites is performed. If the blood test is only used to measure platelet count, platelet volume, RBC count, or cholesterol level, then nicotine may not show up in the blood test result. However, there are insurance companies that strictly require a nicotine test in a panel of blood tests in order to calculate the insurance premium.

There are various methods developed to detect and measure nicotine or its derivatives in the blood including gas chromatography and HPLC-MS. Take note that nicotine cannot only be detected in the blood but can also be detected in the saliva, urine or even the hair.

How about if you stopped smoking or chewing tobacco gum days or weeks before the blood test, will nicotine still show up in the blood test?

The answer can be YES. Even if nicotine has a half-life in the body of 1 to 4 hours, its primary metabolites like cotinine can stay in the body for many days or even weeks. The presence of cotinine metabolites in your body is a great indication that you are smoking or chewing tobacco gum. Cotinine has a half-life in the body of between 7 and 40 hours. Depending on your body’s ability to get rid of cotinine from your system, it may take more than 40 hours before the level of cotinine and other nicotine metabolites in your system reaches the level of a non-smoker. Genetics has a bearing on how fast the body flushes away cotinine and other nicotine metabolites.

Is there any way to flush out nicotine from your system fast?

There is no way, method, technique, or strategy that you can do to flush out the nicotine from your system fast. Long term abstinence from smoking or tobacco gum chewing will work but can you honestly and patiently abstain from smoking?