How Long Does Nicotine Stay In Your Blood?

January 25, 2018

Jelly Bell

How Long Does Nicotine Stay In Your Blood?

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Smoking cigarette has been a big problem in society for years because of its bad effects on human’s health so to decrease tobacco consumption some states allow companies to apply nicotine tests to their candidates and employees. You may ask “what is nicotine?” or “how long does nicotine stay in your blood?”- this article will answer it all and hopefully can make you realize how terrible tobacco is and help you find a way to stop smoking as well.

Some facts about nicotine

Nicotine- a name that you may encounter several times in every single health articles about smoking- is the main reason why many people find it so difficult to stop using cigarette. Here are some simple grasps on nicotine that we think you should know:

  • Nicotine is an alkaloid chemical that is extracted from plants or produced synthetically. Not only tobacco plant but also tomatoes, potatoes or red pepper have nicotine as well.
  • Nicotine is as addictive as heroin. It stimulates the adrenal gland which leads to adrenaline release. On the other side, it indirectly causes the release of dopamine in a particular area of the brain in charge of pleasure and motivation. Both adrenaline and dopamine can give the smoker a pleasure sensation – the same mechanism of heroin, marijuana or any other addictive product [1].
  • Nicotine is an active ingredient in tobacco, cigarette, cigar and so on. However, the reason why smoking is strongly against not only because of nicotine but also thousands of compounds that are either already in the products or synthesized during the combustion process. Because of that, removing tobacco from your body will be a different story. If you are looking for that, click HOW LONG DOES TOBACCO STAY IN YOUR SYSTEM for more details.
  • Although nicotine may have some pharmacological credits like enhancing memory, concentration or increasing heartbeat and heart stroke volume, its benefits are outweighed by its harm and can be replaced by other safer substance. With this point specifically, we will discuss further with you later to help you understand the downside of nicotine and smoking cigarette in general.

Why knowing how long does nicotine stay in your blood is necessary?

How long does nicotine stay in your blood
How Long Does Nicotine Stay In Your Blood?

There are several reasons why you may have to take a nicotine test. Below here are some common ones:

  • For employment: as I mentioned in the beginning, many states in the US legalize nicotine test for recruitment to decrease the smoking rate and offer the most healthy environment for its employees.
  • Court-ordered testing in child custody cases
  • When applying for health or life insurance
  • Before certain surgeries
  • If your doctor suspects nicotine overdose

Nicotine or cotinine (a product of nicotine metabolism) can be found not only in blood but also in saliva or urine which make those two good samples for the test as well. In the following paragraph, we will go in detail about the interval of time which nicotine can still be tracked in your blood.

However, if you want to see how long does nicotine stay in your system, not only in your blood but also in your saliva or urine click these articles below:


How long does nicotine stay in your blood?

One cigarette can contain from 10 to 12 mg nicotine and smoker will inhale 1/10 of that – about 1mg. As the time nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream, it only takes 10 seconds for nicotine to get to the brain cells and show its effects. From your blood, nicotine reaches to liver and breakdowns into cotinine- a more stable substance. Those two eventually will be eliminated in your urine.

nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream
Nicotine Is Absorbed Into The Bloodstream

Usually, nicotine can last from 1 TO 3 DAYS while cotinine can stay for 10 DAYS at most. A blood test can show whether you have nicotine in your body or not( quality test) or estimate the concentration of nicotine or cotinine in your blood( quality test).

If you are a non-smoker with no second-hand smoke exposure, the level of nicotine will never exceed one ng/ml. It is averagely 30 to 50 ng/ml with a daily smoker and goes as high as 500 ng/ml with a heavy smoker.In case you are using nicotine replacement therapy to quit smoking, you may need to do the nicotine test that also looks for anabasine – a substance can only be found in tobacco

But what if you are a second-hand smoker, will your nicotine level will go higher then? Click here to see if A TEST CAN REVEAL A SECOND-HAND SMOKER or not and here to learn HOW LONG DOES SECOND-HAND SMOKE STAY IN YOUR SYSTEM!

Other factors that modify how long does nicotine still leave traces

Unfortunately, those given numbers can fluctuate because there are still multiple factors can contribute to elimination process of nicotine that we need to concern:

1, Individual variations

  • Age: The older you become, nicotine will stay in your blood for a longer time due to decreased lean body mass and reduced liver’s blood flow. ( the organ that metabolizes nicotine). It is estimated that total clearance is 23% lower and renal clearance is 49% lower in elderly in comparison to young adults [2].
  • Gender: women seem to get rid of nicotine faster than men, especially pregnant woman because of their high estrogen level. Estrogen can enhance the effects of some enzymes that play a role in nicotine or cotinine elimination and boost the clearance process. During pregnancy or after taking contraceptive, estrogen level can rise higher than normal and raise the clearance rate up to 60%. A non-pregnant, non-contraceptive-used woman can still eliminate nicotine 13% greater compared to a man [2].
  • Genetics: Some people have genes that trigger slow metabolism of nicotine or cotinine. Besides, the elimination speed can also vary among ethnicities and races as African-American have slower clearance rate in comparison with Caucasians [3].
  • Food intake: it is a crucial factor that affects how long does nicotine stay in your blood. During digestion, your liver has to work harder, kidney’s and liver’s blood flow increase so then the detoxifying process of nicotine also becomes faster. On the other hand, water consumption can also help you flush out nicotine and other toxins more quickly.


  • Medical condition: as you may know, the disposal of nicotine depends greatly on kidney function so a kidney failure patient will spend much longer period to eliminate nicotine and cotinine than a healthy person.
  • Medicine: Some drug can influence CYP2A6 – an enzyme used to metabolize nicotine. For example, artemisinin,  rifampicin, and phenobarbital can upregulate enzyme’s function while coumarin, tryptamine, and tranylcypromine downregulate it [4]. If you are being treated for some diseases, please consider what you are taking including dietary supplement as well.
  • Time of smoking: The time you smoke can also modify the metabolism rate: from 6 PM to 3 AM is the period that the metabolism speed is slowest in a day.

2, Nicotine-based product

Different brands and different type of product contain different level of nicotine and different degree of nicotine excretion:

  • Smoking cigarette: tobacco has numerous unknown compounds that are extremely hazardous to human-being. Those substances will inhibit the metabolism of nicotine by poisoning your liver and your kidney. That’s why smokers will have a higher concentration of nicotine in their blood and need to take a longer time to eliminate nicotine or cotinine fully.
  • If smokers temporarily stop smoking for seven days, their efficiency of metabolizing nicotine increases by up to 36% [2]. Few factors aside like the depth of inhalation or the dilation of the air( whether you smoke outside or inside) can also affect the amount of time that nicotine exists in your blood at some level.
  • Chewing tobacco: Chewing can make nicotine be absorbed faster into the bloodstream but deliver to brain cell slower. Unfortunately, there is still no clear evidence about nicotine metabolism’s differences between chewing and smoking tobacco products.
  • Nicotine replacement therapy: nicotine is the reason why smoking cigarette can be so hard to quit. With such products, nicotine will be absorbed slowly and remain at a constant level in your blood and help you gradually abstain. Unlike cigarette, it doesn’t have other nameless-toxin so it is harmless and its nicotine is easy to process. The nicotine content will be different with each brand so you should also take a glance at it.
  • Menthol content: menthol can come along with nicotine in some products to adjust the brand’s flavor and give cooling sensation, but it will inhibit metabolism enzyme of nicotine. As a result, the interval of time for nicotine to stay in your blood will be longer.

3, Dosage and frequency

Obviously, how much and how often you use nicotine-based products will alter how long does nicotine stay in your blood.A person that smokes total 50 mg of nicotine a day compared to a person who smokes 1 mg of it will have to spend longer time to get rid of it if to pass the blood test.

However, the same thing can happen to a person who frequently smokes even with a small amount a day as nicotine will accumulate in body tissues and toxin in cigarette will gradually damage “purify system” of your body.  With a heavy smoker, it may take a year to get rid of nicotine from your system completely.

4, Test errors

However, after all, a nicotine blood test can still give a false positive result because of the laboratory errors or the appearance of thiocyanate. If you doubt the authenticity of the test result, please try the test again for your sake.

So what can I do to make the whole elimination process quicker based on those factors? Click HOW TO GET NICOTINE OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM to see the solutions.

Bad health effects of nicotine

Tobacco has long been known for its serious impact on individual’s health not only for those who smoke but also for passive smokers. It comprises of nicotine and abundant hazardous substances that are still unknown. For this section, we will discuss the harm of nicotine specifically, besides its good points(that were previously mentioned) so you can recognize what terrible things smoking can cause:

  • Nicotine works as a neurotransmitter in nerves system and competes against acetylcholine – a normal neurotransmitter. Using nicotine regularly can disrupt normal function and decrease the number of cholinergic receptors – a receptor is activated by acetylcholine [5].
  • Nicotine stimulates adrenal gland to release adrenaline- a hormone that increases heartbeat and blood pressure. Because of that, long-term exposure to nicotine can make you susceptible to high blood pressure and heart disease [6].
  • Nicotine is addictive: it acts as a sedative and stimulant, but the effect only lasts for a short period, so it makes people always crave for more.Gradually, tolerance phenomenon will develop which higher dose of nicotine is required to offer initial effect.

An adequate amount of nicotine doesn’t bring much harm, but because of addiction and tolerance phenomenon, the smoker will consume a large amount of nicotine a day and get bad impacts of nicotine.

bad effects of nicotine
Bad Effects Of Nicotine

Furthermore, nicotine addicts usually look for cigarette or tobacco – nicotine-based products which contain a lot of toxins and can lead to lung cancer, pharynx cancer, esophagus cancer, pregnancy complications in women and so on.

If you are wondering HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET ADDICTED TO NICOTINE, learn more to know when you should stop before getting addicted.

  • Withdrawal period: if you know the consequences of using nicotine or nicotine-based product and want to quit, the process afterward will not be easy. After few hours from the last smoke, nicotine withdrawal can happen with the symptoms of anxiety, irritable, insomnia and so on. The severity degree and duration of symptoms depend on the dosage and frequency of smoking. With a light smoker, it may take only a week, but with a heavy smoker, nicotine withdrawal can last for months or longer.

Main points on how long does nicotine stay in your blood

Nicotine is an active chemical in tobacco, cigarette, cigar and so on that offer pleasant feeling to the user.

Nicotine blood test can be used for recruitment, assessment before surgery or requirement for health insurance.

Nicotine can last FROM 1 TO 3 DAYS but cotinine- a metabolized product of nicotine- can stay to even 10 DAYS in your blood. The nicotine blood test usually will look for both of them, and sometimes even anabasine- a substance can only be found in tobacco.

There are many factors can contribute to how long does nicotine stay in your blood:

1. Individual variations

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Genetics
  • Food intake
  • Medical condition
  • Medicine intake
  • Time of smoking

2. Nicotine-based product:

  • Smoking cigarette
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Nicotine replacement therapy
  • Menthol content

3. Dosage and frequency

Although nicotine has some benefits, nicotine-based products usually have many hazardous substances besides nicotine( except nicotine replacement product) that can destroy your health. Quit smoking now not only for your health but also for your family – who can become the victim of passive smoking.

In conclusion

We have just answered the question “How long does nicotine stay in your blood?”  for you in great detail. Hopefully, we can explain everything clearly, but if you still feel ambiguous about something, please contact us. If you find this article helpful, please click SHARE buttons on the left of the screen. If you want us to provide more knowledge every day about beauty health and lifestyle,  please sign up for our newsletter!

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