Nicotine Testing

August 7, 2017

Drug Testing Articles


Smoking can be a way to calm down the nerves when you’re stressed out. Some people like to smoke when they have a little to drink, after a good meal, or on a cold winter’s night to stay warm. Other might say it eases the tension after a verbal or sometimes physical confrontation. One thing is for sure: when it comes to cravings, the first thing you want to do is “light up”. Although the pharmaceutical companies have spent billions of dollars over the years to warn us that smoking is the number one cause of different types of cancers. Most of us have seen a picture of what a set of lungs looks like infested with cancer. If that’s not scary enough, imagine what it’s like for a teenager, the first time getting busted by his or her parents for smoking. Growing up in my house, if you got caught lighting up a cigarette, your rear end was going to get lit up worse. If you don’t get seen smoking, you have nothing to worry about, right? There are obvious signs to a smoker: stains on the fingers and teeth, smoky smell on their clothes, and possibly the extended breaks during the work day. But what about those who try to cover their smoking habit? Perhaps that’s where nicotine testing comes into play.

There are three ways that you can be tested for Nicotine: Blood, Saliva, & Urine. Each of these 3 ways looks for three substances which can detect tobacco use:

  • Carboxyhemoglobin
  • Thiocyanate
  • Cotinine

Carboxyhemoglobin is formed when carbon monoxide (CO) in tobacco smoke binds with hemoglobin (protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen) to form carboxyhemoglobin (COHb), hindering the transport of oxygen to other bodily tissues. High COHb levels also increase cardiac oxygen demand, including acute myocardial hypoxia in persons with atherosclerotic obstruction disease. The main sources of COHb are tobacco smoke and gasoline engine exhaust fumes. It is common for non-smokers to have 0.5% to 2.0% CO hemoglobin saturation.

Thiocyanate is a resulting product after the detoxification of hydrogen cyanide in cigarettes. It can be detected in urine, saliva, and sweat providing a useful marker of exposure determining the difference between smokers and nonsmokers. However, thiocyanate (along with other cyanogens) can be found in many of the foods we eat including cabbage, broccoli, almond, and horseradish. Therefore, that detail has to be considered when testing since it has the ability to artificially increase thiocyanate excretion, thereby affecting the specificity of the test.

Cotinine us the major breakdown product of Nicotine. Exposure to nicotine can be measured by analyzing the cotinine level in the blood, saliva, or urine. Cotinine is currently regarded as the best biomarker when testing the level of exposure to tobacco smoke, including second-hand smoke. The measurement of cotinine is preferable to measuring nicotine because cotinine persists longer in the body with a plasma half-life of about 16 hours.

**FYI: Cotinine is an anagram of nicotine. (The 8 letters in the word “nicotine” were rearranged to coin the word “cotinine”.)**

Nicotine is considered the most addictive substance on the market today. Whether you are a parent, teacher, or in any other supporting role, if you need more information about Nicotine testing, feel free to speak with one of our friendly knowledgeable sales consultants by calling (888) 404-0020 weekdays from 8 am to 4 pm CST or send us an email. They’ll be happy to answer any of your questions. For all your other drug testing needs, we invite you to look at our website www.rapiddetect.com anytime 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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