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Nicotine Testing

When one considers that smoking causes more than 1,300 deaths in the U.S. every day, and the fact that the Affordable Healthcare Act costs up to 50% more for smoking status, it seems obvious that the need for nicotine testing by employers is more relevant today than ever before. Nicotine testing, often referred to as “cotinine” testing, can be conducted using multiple drug test methods including urine and saliva.

Test type

Detection Period


Urine Lab

4 to 7 days

Can be combined with other drug tests you are already using.

Urine Instant

4 to 7 days

Rapid tests can provide results within 5 minutes.

Saliva Lab

1 to 2 days

Non-invasive & observed collection limits specimen tampering.

Saliva Instant

1 to 2 days

Rapid tests can provide results within 10 minutes.

Employers should consider what kind of policy should be in place regarding nicotine use and the action that should be taken if an employee tests positive for nicotine before and during their employment. If an employee tests positive for nicotine on either a urine or saliva rapid screening, it is recommended to have a laboratory do confirmation testing.

It needs to be expressed that since cotinine is a metabolite the body produces when nicotine is ingested, employees will most likely test positive even while using nicotine replacement therapies like the patch, gum, or even the electronic cigarette. Due to high cut off levels, second hand smoke is not likely to trigger a positive result.

Please call DATCS for a consultation at 1-888-201-0242 today.