Nicotine Cotinine (Urine)
Does this test have other names?
Cotinine urine test, nicotine urine test
What is this test?
This test measures the amount of cotinine in your urine. Cotinine is a chemical your
body makes after you are exposed to nicotine. Measuring cotinine is better than measuring
nicotine because nicotine disappears from your system within a few hours, but cotinine
remains for a day or more.
Why do I need this test?
You may have this test to measure your progress in a program to quit smoking. This
test can also help your healthcare provider figure out the right dose for a nicotine
patch to help you stop smoking.
You may need to take a cotinine test if you're applying for a job at a company that
prohibits smoking. Some insurance companies may require this test as part of a health
exam before approving a policy. This test is also done to check for nicotine poisoning.
What other tests might I have along with this test?
You may also have blood and saliva tests for cotinine.
What do my test results mean?
Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses
to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you
may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your healthcare
Cotinine is measured in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL):
Cotinine levels in a nonsmoker are generally less than 10 ng/mL.
Cotinine levels in a light smoker or someone exposed to secondhand smoke are 11 ng/mL
to 30 ng/mL.
Cotinine levels in a heavy smoker may be more than 500 ng/mL.
How is this test done?
This test requires a urine sample. You will get instructions on how to collect the
Does this test pose any risks?
This test has no known risks.
What might affect my test results?
If you use nicotine replacement medicine, such as gum or a patch, the cotinine test
will not give an accurate result. Breathing in secondhand smoke can also affect the
result. If you haven't smoked or been exposed to nicotine in 7 to 10 days, your cotinine
levels start to return to a normal level.
How do I get ready for this test?
Drink enough water before the test so that you can urinate. Try to stay away from
places where you could be exposed to secondhand smoke for several days before the
test. Be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins,
and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription
and any illegal drugs you may use.