Does Secondhand Smoke Show Up On Drug Test?

February 19, 2018

Veronica Phan

Does Secondhand Smoke Show Up On Drug Test?

Table of Contents [ Hide ]


There’s a common question usually asked when it comes to a life insurance company: “Is nicotine drug test included in insurance requirement?”. You will get the answer “yes” which can be followed by another question: “Does secondhand smoke show up on drug test?”

Let’s read all the content here and find out the answer yourselves.

Since 2008, tobacco has been named as the world’ single preventable cause of death by the World Health Organization after recording a number of deaths caused by lung cancer, COPD, heart attack with the cooperation of tobacco use.

But why do people keep using tobacco even there are numbers of graphic content about the bad effect of tobacco on people’s health? The answer is nicotine and cotinine- the metabolized product of nicotine that triggers the addiction process on the individuals. And addiction means quitting smoking is not easy as you say.

By the way, we have an edited article about HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET ADDICTED TO NICOTINE for you to discover how much nicotine can trigger the addictive process in your body.

And because of all harmful potential to the people’s health, some insurance company, states, employers, and federal add in their participating offer because of health and security problem.

Therefore, nicotine drug test result is important, as well as the answer to the question “Does secondhand smoke show up on drug test?” asked by the passive non- smoker.

What is tobacco?

After harvesting leaves from tobacco plants, the leaves are cured at an appropriate temperature to produce tobacco.

The first tobacco was discovered in the early Americas from 1400 to 1000 BC. Following the industrial revolution, tobacco developed much and became a trade item both in Europe and America which was believed to encourage the supreme increase growth until the bad effect of tobacco on people’s health was demonstrated in the 1900s [1].

How can you ingest tobacco?

Tobacco can be ingested in many forms. However, there are 3 most common types to ingest tobacco: tobacco smoke and smokeless tobaccos and secondhand smoke.

Among that, tobacco smoke which includes cigars, cigarettes, pipes, and hookah are more popular. In common, the tobacco leaves will be cured after harvesting from the tobacco plant. Then they come in the various form of tobacco as you know (cigar, cigarette, pipes) for the user.

Does secondhand smoke show up on drug test

And the users burn tobacco products which create smoke. That’s why they are called smoke tobacco.

Unlike tobacco smoke, smokeless tobacco contains chewing tobacco, snuff, placing the tobacco product between the teeth and gum, and even applying tobacco topically.

Immediately after entering the body through smoke, nicotine from tobacco is absorbed into the bloodstream and soon metabolized into cotinine with the help of enzymes in your liver.

The last method to ingest tobacco is secondhand smoke which is considered as an incident smoking tobacco. You can get tobacco smoke, as well all the ingredients, and the chemical compounds from the air when people around you start smoking tobacco.

Although the amount of tobacco which is absorbed into your body through secondhand smoke is less than tobacco user, the bad effect of tobacco on your health doesn’t lead to a fewer problem comparing to direct tobacco user.

How can tobacco make an impact on your health status?

Nicotine was proved to lead to various complication to our health no matter how much we smoke. According to American Lung Association, 7000 chemical compounds are released once you burn about 600 ingredients of tobacco which can be found in the cigarette. And most of the chemical compounds relate, as well as lead to cancer.

As mentioned before, death caused by smoke is a preventable death which means quitting smoking is the best way to protect your health from toxicity and the death.

Let’s have a brief look at the effect of tobacco on every side of your body and decide whether it’s worth betting your health with nicotine addiction.

Respiratory system

Because smoking tobacco is the most popular types of tobacco; therefore, your lung tends to suffer from smoking tobacco. Mouth, pharynx, larynx, bronchi, and lungs are the parts of the respiratory system, and as a result, these parts are affected mostly because of tobacco smoke.

Hot gases inhaled in the smoking process causes damage to the tissue and mucous membrane surrounding the mouth which can lead to irritation from smoking. The popular symptoms caused by irritation from smoking include coughing, heavy breathing, and hoarseness.

To the bronchi, when cilia don’t work out, excessive mucus clogs in the bronchial space. Then a frequent cough and mucus expulsion can be the signs of COPD- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Also, lung cancer is considered the most popular cause of death relating to tobacco ingestion.

Cardiovascular system

The response of heart and blood vessels are caused by tobacco inhalation. Moreover, carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces the ability of blood to carry oxygen. Heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, and even atherosclerosis are the common cardiovascular disease caused by tobacco.

Smoking also elevates blood pressure, increases the blood clots, makes your blood vessels walls thinner which are the early signs of stroke.

Smoking not only affects your health but also the health of people around you who can get risks like stroke, cardiovascular disease.

Psychological health

Although smokers report about the stress relief after using tobacco, the level of stress is higher in both adult and adolescent comparing to non- smoker. Some studies have been carried out and proved the relationship between psychological distress and the level of cotinine in saliva, determined that both active and passive smoker can have a higher potential for mental stress.

Does secondhand smoke show up on drug test
Stress- side effect of nicotine

Does secondhand smoke show up on drug test?

Above are a few typical examples of the bad effect of tobacco on human’s health. All of these are listed to prove how important the nicotine drug test is made for, as well as the importance of the answer for “Does secondhand smoke show up on drug test?”.

And the more important part of this article, the answer is YES, SECONDHAND SMOKE CAN SHOW UP ON DRUG TEST. But don’t worry about the test result that you can be misunderstood as an active smoker. Because the quantitative drug test result can show up the level of smoker you are which means the result can demonstrate that you are an active smoker, a passive smoker, or a non- smoker.

Moreover, we highly recommend you to read HOW LONG DOES SECONDHAND SMOKE STAY IN YOUR SYSTEM after reading all the content about “Does secondhand smoke show up on drug test?”.

Nowadays, there are 4 types of nicotine drug test which includes saliva, blood, urine, and hair drug test. Each of them shows different result but still have the same evaluation of the individual’s smoking level. Let’s see what nicotine drug test show you the amount of nicotine and cotinine in your body if you are a secondhand smoker.

Urine tobacco test

After entering the body, cotinine is rapidly metabolized from nicotine with the help of enzymes in the liver and exhibits an elimination half-life of 15 hours while it takes nicotine 2 hours to finish its half-life elimination.

The urine test result can categorize the types of smokers including people with high smoking frequency, people who are under abstinence, non- smoker with passive exposure, and non- smoker. Let’s see these figure and check out your number, as well as the smoking level on your own.

1000- 1500 ng/mL is the concentration range of nicotine showing up on drug test which indicates that the person owns this urine sample has a high frequency using tobacco in a long time while the value of cotinine excreted in your body can vary from 1000- 8000 ng/mL [2].

With tobacco user under abstinent time, nicotine concentration can be less than 30 ng/mL and cotinine level is about 50 ng/mL.

But we are considering about “Does secondhand smoke show up on drug test?” with the answer “Yes”; therefore, there is also a range concentration of nicotine and cotinine which indicates this person is a non-tobacco user with passive exposure. When the nicotine and cotinine number is lower than 20 ng/mL, you have been proved to get a secondhand smoke from another.

In case you are trying to find a solution for the nicotine concentration in your body, we highly recommend you to read HOW LONG DOES NICOTINE STAY IN YOUR SYSTEM to know what exact time is appropriate for a nicotine drug test.

Saliva tobacco test

Saliva nicotine drug test has developed much that there are several products of nicotine saliva drug test available on the market now. But they are semi-quantitative test mostly and does not have a precise range to decide which type of smoker you are.

A study was published in 1995 by The John Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health which demonstrated the cotinine concentration in saliva. A person who smokes over 10 cigarettes in a day has a median concentration of nicotine of 113 ng/mL in saliva while the number in non- smoker is about 2.4 ng/mL.

The person whose relatives and friends are smoker has a higher cotinine concentration in saliva than non- smoker with relatives and friends as non- smoker. The specific number of cotinine concentration in passive nicotine exposure is 3.6 ng/mL, which is 1.5 times more than non- smoker.

Here is the article HOW LONG DOES NICOTINE STAY IN YOUR SALIVA for you to read more information about the lasting time of nicotine accumulating in your saliva, also.

Blood tobacco test

Nicotine usually stays in the blood of tobacco- dependent people in the range of 30 to 50 ng/mL while cotinine accumulation in the serum is about 200 to 800 ng/mL. Mentioning tobacco-dependent people not only includes usual smoker but also people who are receiving high- dose nicotine patch therapy- a sparing therapy for a heavy smoker.

If the nicotine and cotinine values are both less than 3 ng/mL, the individual might be a smoker under 2 weeks of abstinence.

To answer the question “Does secondhand smoke show up on drug test?”, the amount of cotinine accumulating in the blood serum in the passive smoker is less than 8 ng/mL [3].

And in case you are curious about when nicotine gets out of your body, read HOW LONG DOES NICOTINE STAY IN YOUR BLOOD.

Hair tobacco test

Hair tobacco drug test is considered as the most precise, the most difficult, as well as the most expensive test for nicotine and cotinine accumulation. This test is usually useful when all the other tests are labeled “unbelievable” in the lawsuit causes. Therefore, the range of nicotine and cotinine values in hair are worthless for you.

How to soothe nicotine out of your body quickly?

Smoking is bad for your health, even the fact that you are a passive smoker. And also the most important problem today is that you don’t want your life insurance premium to be that bad just because the nicotine test result can be skewed without your fault.

Of course, you are proved to be a passive smoker with the help of 3 types of test mentioned before, but why don’t you read more about the way to eliminate nicotine quickly from your system to protect your health, as well as to make sure about nicotine and cotinine drug test result. As no one knows how much tobacco smoke you have inhaled thanks to your friends, relatives, and all people surround you.

Nicotine is metabolized into cotinine by enzymes in the liver after being absorbed into the bloodstream. But after a long time accumulating in your body which is mentioned specifically in ANSWER FOR HOW LONG DOES TOBACCO STAY IN YOUR SYSTEM, tobacco will be eliminated through urine.


As a result, the best way to eliminate nicotine and cotinine is to drink. Drinking more water helps your body get rid of nicotine more effectively.


Food and drink play important roles in rejecting nicotine and cotinine. Rich antioxidant food is the best for you which includes spinach, and other green vegetables.

Moreover, oranges and lemons can reduce the withdrawal symptoms of tobacco like sleeplessness, anxiety which is effective to quit smoking.

There are a lot of food for you to change the menu in case you want to stop smoking- another way to eradicate tobacco in your body, too. But these food and veggies are listed in another article named TOP 12 FOODS WILL FLUSH OUT NICOTINE FROM YOUR BODY we would like to recommend you to read.

Acknowledge more information about nicotine and cotinine level in the body

Age, sex, and liver function are three stable factors which can affect the answer for “Does secondhand smoke show up on drug test?” because they both change the level of cotinine and nicotine staying in your system.

Moreover, health condition and the most important factor: the smoking frequency are considered as the preventable factors which have an impact on nicotine and cotinine drug test result.


Once again, we have to repeat that the answer for “Does secondhand smoke show up on drug test?” is yes. Therefore, it would be better for you to have a good preparation for a nicotine or cotinine drug test, in order to have a good job application, or health insurance premium, assumedly.

If you find this information helpful, don’t forget to LIKE and SHARE this article!

Leave us comments if you have any question, we are pleased to help!

Related Post