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Fact Check: Testing for Nicotine in Your Body

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NicotineThis is a topic that seems to have a lot of misinformation floating out there. Since it is an important issue for some vapers, it’s best that we address it and clear up any confusion. For those that aren’t sure why this topic is important to vaping, let’s explain that first.

The primary reason why this is important to vapers is that they may encounter nicotine testing. This usually occurs if they are signing up for some time of health insurance. The insurance company will ask if the person smokes cigarettes so as to determine their rates, and a test for nicotine may be used to verify the accuracy of these answers. For those who have made the switch from smoking to vaping, this serves as a problem. Often times any type of nicotine usage, even the patch or nicotine gum, will get lumped in with smoking. Here’s our quick fact check on the topic.

Fact: Nicotine is detectable in your body for only 3 to 4 days.

It’s true. If it’s a blood test, nicotine can be detected only 1 to 3 days after your last usage. For urine it can take up to 4 days. Either way, it’s not a very long timeframe and thus makes it hard to verify nicotine usage by testing for nicotine itself.

Fiction: Most nicotine tests look for nicotine in your body.

Since nicotine is so quick in becoming undetectable, most nicotine tests do not actually test for nicotine. Instead, they test for cotinine. Your liver will metabolise nicotine and is subsequently turned into the substance cotinine. This will stay detectable in your body for a maximum of 3 weeks, but can be gone in a week.

Fact: Nicotine tests can be administered by taking blood, saliva, urine, and even hair.

Like a lot of other tests, nicotine can be looked for in a variety of ways. The most common is saliva as it is the easiest to take a sample from someone by swabbing their mouth. Urine is also common, while blood and hair are less so. Although cotinine can stay in your hair up to six times as long, it takes much longer for results and is more expensive. Thus, it’s usually only used if previous results of saliva, urine, or blood are inconclusive.

Fiction: Only health insurance companies test for nicotine.

While health insurance companies are the most likely to test for nicotine, they aren’t the only ones. Life insurance companies are also quite apt to test for it, since defining you as a smoker has a heavy impact on their rates. There are also some instances of employers testing for nicotine, but those are for very specific types of jobs.

All of this may not be relevant to most vapers and we sincerely hope it is not. The practice of nicotine testing isn’t one we are big fans of. By simply testing for nicotine (or, really, cotinine), it does a disservice to those who do use nicotine but don’t smoke. Anyone who has made the switch from smoking to vaping understands there are clear differences between the two. What smoking does to the body is very different than what vaping does to the body.

Beyond that, lumping the nicotine from cigarettes in with the nicotine from vaping is also a mistake. It contributes to liquid nicotine’s bad name, which is really unfortunate. While it’s true that both vapers and smokers will have nicotine in their bodies, they can’t be seen the same way. For now, these tests do that. So, if you’re asked to take a nicotine test, just be prepared for how they will test you and how long nicotine stays detectable in your body. With that information in hand, you can decide what course of action is best for you.


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