A nicotine blood test is a blood test to determine whether a person has recently used a tobacco product. The test requires only a small amount of blood. Though false positives rarely occur, the test has its faults, as nicotine remains in the bloodstream only a short time. Some insurance companies require a nicotine blood test before approving coverage. The test is also beneficial for parents who suspect their children of tobacco use.
After a person smokes or chews tobacco, the liver quickly metabolizes the nicotine absorbed by the bloodstream. If a person smokes a cigarette, within two hours the amount of nicotine in the blood is halved through the actions of the liver. For a light smoker, nicotine is undetectable in the blood after three days of no tobacco use. For heavier users, the process takes five to ten days. The speed at which the body removes nicotine makes the nicotine blood test good for determining only the presence of nicotine and not the amount the person originally had in his or her system.
As a nicotine blood test is reliable for determining whether or not a person uses tobacco products, some insurance companies have made the test mandatory. A positive results means that either the tobacco user will not receive coverage or will receive coverage with a higher monthly premium. With millions of people worldwide dying annually from tobacco-related illnesses, a blood test allows insurance companies to protect themselves. Even so, it is relatively easy for a smoker to hide his use by abstaining from tobacco while buying insurance.
Parents also use the nicotine blood test to check whether their children are using tobacco products. To make sure the child does not know about the test in advance, the blood is taken during a routine visit to the pediatrician. Parents can also opt for other, less invasive forms of testing such as saliva, urine or hair. The latter is the most accurate of all nicotine tests, as nicotine remains in the hair for as long as the person does not have it cut. Parents trying to halt their child's tobacco use should consult their child's pediatrician for advice and assistance.