Nicotine Urine Testing & Nicotine Saliva Testing

In many US states, employers can legally implement no-hire policies for nicotine users by using nicotine testing for pre-employment.

Nicotine testing became popular when insurance providers realized that smoking was becoming a public health crisis. Many companies added nicotine use to their drug and alcohol policies to prohibit employees from using nicotine products. This helped to keep coverage costs as low as possible. Companies, such as plumbing, HVAC repair, satellite, or cable installation and many more occupations where employees regularly enter homes to repair, install or deliver goods or services, test for nicotine.

Nicotine detection in urine samples: Urine tests are easy to administer, and the detection period is 2 to 4 days. An instant screening can give you immediate results and a cotinine lab test can be combined with other drugs you are already testing for.

Nicotine detection in saliva samples: Testing for nicotine usage through saliva is the most sensitive method for detecting cotinine with a detection period of 1 to 4 days. It is non-invasive and the observed collection procedure limits specimen tampering. Nicotine detection in hair and nail samples: Nicotine and cotinine testing using hair follicles is the most reliable method with a detection period up to 3 months on average. It is also the most expensive and is only used when other forms of testing are unsatisfactory.

Nicotine is absorbed into the body by smoking, vaping, ingestion, and direct skin contact through membranes in the nose and mouth and is broken down into cotinine. Cotinine is a metabolite of nicotine that remains in your saliva, urine, blood, and hair. The metabolization process can be affected by many factors, including genetics, age, diet, and medication regimens. The length of time cotinine is detectable in your system also depends on the type of test being used.

Employers should consider what kind of policy should be in place regarding nicotine use with their company. A company policy should include the actions that will be taken if an employee tests positive for nicotine before and during employment. Nicotine replacement therapies, like the patch or gum, will most likely produce a positive result, but second-hand smoke is not likely to trigger a positive result.

Test Type
Detection Period
Detection Period
Test Type
Urine Lab
Detection Period

4-7 Days

Detection Period

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

Test Type
Urine Instant
Detection Period

4-7 Days

Detection Period
Rapid tests can provide results within 5 minutes.
Test Type
Saliva Lab
Detection Period

1-2 Days

Detection Period
Non-invasive & observed collection limits specimen tampering.
Test Type
Saliva Instant
Detection Period

1-2 Days

Detection Period
Rapid tests can provide results within 10 minutes.