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Cotinine Testing

Cotinine and Nicotine

Employers as well as life and health insurers may test for cotinine to affirm an applicant’s statement that they are a non-tobacco user. The word “cotinine” is an anagram of the word “nicotine.” Cotinine is a substance produced in the liver when a person takes in nicotine, whether by smoking (cigarettes, e-cigarettes or vaping), chewing tobacco, nicotine patches or gum, making testing for cotinine a way to test for nicotine use.

Why Test for Cotinine?

Cotinine testing works to tell whether someone is a current tobacco user and also whether they have quit recently or been a long term user. A cotinine test is both a qualitative test (ie., it can determine, yes or no, whether cotinine is present) and a quantitative test (ie.,it can measure how much cotinine is present). This means they can reveal how long someone has been smoking, when they may have quit, and if they are a current user. This is a reason insurance companies and employers use it.

Cotinine can be measured in your blood, urine, saliva and hair (tough hair testing is usually reserved for research purposes). After quitting smoking, it can take two weeks or longer for blood levels of cotinine to drop to the level of a non-smoker. It can also take several weeks for urine levels to drop to non-smoker levels.

Having the lowest possible level on a cotinine test can be crucial if you are planning to apply for a job in a state where it may be legal to base a non-hiring decision on tobacco use or if you are preparing to apply for life or health insurance and have recently quit using tobacco. You may want to test proactively on your own to make sure that your test results come back negative for active tobacco use. For more information, contact ARCpoint Labs of Minneapolis Metro area.

Image of someone putting out cigarette in ashtray.

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