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Smoking can be a big problem among teenagers who are prone to experimentation. Research suggests even one cigarette can significantly harden the arteries. A smoking habit is the last thing a parent wants for their children. With a simple home nicotine test, you can determine if someone has begun smoking and intervene immediately.

What is Cotinine?

A nicotine drug screen is designed to detect the presence of cotinine. Cotinine is one of 20 different metabolic products that show that nicotine has been present in the body. Cotinine is detectable in the body at 3-5 days after nicotine is inhaled.

Nicotine testing is relatively easy and inexpensive. Urine tests for smoking are very common in the workplace, whereas insurance companies might prefer smoking saliva test kits for on-the-spot screening.

Can You Drug Test for Nicotine?

There are two main ways to test for nicotine. These include the urine test and saliva screen:

How Long Will Nicotine Show up in a Urine Test?

  • Urine: For a urine screen, you will need about ½ inch sample of urine in a specimen cup. The urine is tested by either a dropper method or through the use of a testing stick that is designed to look for cotinine in urine. This works for as much as 4 days after the person smoked.

How Long Can Cotinine be Detected in Saliva?

  • Saliva: For the saliva screen, you will need to gather a saliva sample from your teenager (never attempt to put one of these in their mouth!). This test involves a nicotine test strip that you insert into the saliva sample and then wait for results. Saliva tests can be more consistent and accurate than urine screens but it can get a false positive from secondhand smoke.

How to Test for Tobacco Use

  • Urine Cotinine Test Strips
    1. Obtain at least 30mL of urine in a new urine collection cup
    2. Remove the nicotine detection strip from the package and insert into the urine sample for 20 seconds
    3. Place nicotine strip on the back of the card and wait 5-15 minutes before interpreting results

  • Urine Cotinine Dip Cards
    1. Place dip card on a flat surface
    2. Draw a urine sample with a dropper and drip 3-4 drops into the well
    3. Interpret results after 5 minutes

    • Saliva Cotinine Test
      1. Obtain a saliva sample with the collection swab provided until fully saturated
      2. Place cap at the end of swab. NOTE: The test will be invalid if there is insufficient saliva to test
      3. Wait 5 minutes to interpret results.

    Interpreting Nicotine Test Results

    Interpret Drug Test Strips

    The colored line in the Control (C) region indicates the test is working. If a colored band is revealed in the Test (T) region, the result is negative. If no line appears in the T region, the test is positive and cotinine is present in the sample.

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