Nicotine Testing

The Nicotine (COT) Test is for the detection of Cotinine in human urine. Cotinine is a residual of Nicotine which remains in the body of habitual tobacco users. The test is intended to determine tobacco or nicotine use.

This is a simple and convenient test for the rapid detection of tobacco or nicotine use.

Nicotine Test

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Nicotine Test

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40 Individual Tests

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How is a Nicotine Detection Test Used?

Nicotine cotinines to be the most often tested to evaluate tobacco use. Long-term use of tobacco products can increase the risk of developing many diseases including lung cancer, stroke, heart disease and respiratory infections. Smoking may also exacerbate asthma and may also cause blood clot formation. In pregnant women, smoking can retard fetal growth and lead to low birth weight babies.

Because the use of tobacco products can greatly affect the health of individuals, companies may use nicotine/cotinine testing to evaluate prospective employees for tobacco use. Many health and life insurance companies test applicants for nicotine or cotinine as well.

Nicotine and cotinine can both be measured qualitatively or quantitatively. Quantitative testing can help distinguish between active smokers, tobacco users who have recently quit, non-tobacco-users who have been exposed to significant environmental tobacco smoke, and non-users who have not been exposed.

Cotinine may also be measured in saliva and in hair, although hair testing is primarily used in a research setting, such as a study of non-smokers exposure to tobacco smoke.

Blood or urine nicotine may be ordered by itself or along with cotinine if a doctor suspects that someone is experiencing a nicotine overdose.

When a person has reported that he or she is using nicotine replacement products and is no longer smoking, nicotine, cotinine, and urine anabasine measurements may sometimes be ordered. Anabasine is present in tobacco but not in commercial nicotine replacement products. If a sample tests positive for anabasine, then the person is still using tobacco products.

When Would Someone Order a Nicotine Test?

Cotinine and/or nicotine may be ordered whenever an evaluation of tobacco use status or tobacco smoke exposure is required. When a person enters a smoking cessation program, blood or urine cotinine tests may be ordered to evaluate compliance. Urine, blood, or saliva testing may be performed as a screen for tobacco use when someone is applying for life or health insurance, or applying for work with an employer that prohibits smoking. Testing may also be ordered by a court for child custody purposes. Since smoking can increase the risks of medical complications, testing may be performed prior to the start of some drug therapies or surgical procedures.

Nicotine and cotinine are sometimes measured when a patient has symptoms that the doctor suspects may be due to a nicotine overdose. Symptoms of mild nicotine poisoning may include:

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Drooling
  • Weakness

More serious nicotine poisoning may result in:

  • Increased blood pressure and/or heart rate, which then suddenly drops
  • Slowed or difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Hair testing is rarely performed in a clinical setting but may be ordered when an evaluation of longer term tobacco use is desired.

What Do the Nicotine Test Results Mean?

In the blood, nicotine levels can rise within a few seconds of a puff on a cigarette. The quantity depends on the amount of nicotine in the cigarette and the manner in which a person smokes, such as how deeply they inhale. There is also some variability from person to person and some genetic differences in the rate at which nicotine is metabolized and in the rate at which cotinine is cleared from the body. When someone stops using tobacco and nicotine products, it can take more than two weeks for blood levels of cotinine to drop to the level that a non-tobacco user would have and several weeks more for urine levels to decrease to very low concentrations.

In general, high levels of nicotine or cotinine indicate active tobacco or nicotine replacement use. Moderate concentrations indicate a tobacco user who has not had tobacco or nicotine for two to three weeks. Lower levels may be found in a non-tobacco user who has been exposed to environmental smoke. Very low to non-detectable concentrations are found in non-tobacco users who have not been exposed to environmental smoke or a tobacco user who has refrained from tobacco and nicotine for several weeks.

When a nicotine overdose is self-evident, the person may not be tested for nicotine or cotinine. Concentrations would typically be increased, but levels do not necessarily correlate with the severity of a person’s symptoms.

What Else Should You Know about Nicotine Testing?

Test results based on different samples (blood, urine, saliva) are not interchangeable.

Some pesticides contain high concentrations of nicotine. This can be another source of nicotine poisoning.

Nicotine is found not just in the tobacco plant but also in other plants in the same family, including potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, and red peppers. The concentration of nicotine in these plants, however, is much lower than the level in tobacco. The cutoffs of the nicotine/cotinine tests have been set to
discriminate between dietary sources of nicotine and those from tobacco use and second-hand smoking.

A person’s genetic makeup  also influence how they metabolize nicotine.

If you have any questions about our Nicotine tests or if you have questions about your next step then give Appropriate Choice Testing at call at 603-469-3831 or email us at You may  also use our online form if you have any nicotine testing related questions.

Due to the nature of our drug testing products and services, we regret that we cannot offer refunds.