How Long Does Nicotine Stay In Your System

Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical substance which acts as a stimulant in tobacco and is contained in cigarettes, snuff, cigars and tobacco chews. When many people begin to quit smoking they want to know the answer to the question of “how long does it take for nicotine to completely leave the system?” Knowing the answer this will allow smokers to derive exactly the time when they might start to feel the most withdrawal symptoms. Quitting smoking is extremely difficult because of the addictive nature of nicotine and knowing exactly when and how long it stays in your body is important.

Time Frame

It depends on different facts. The nicotine will leave your brain about 40 minutes after your last puff, but those residues can remain in the system for more than two weeks. Due to various factors such as your body weight, your smoking rate and the lifestyle, the exact time frame is difficult to assess. But in reality, you don’t worry about it. In the first three days the symptoms are at peak and your body shows the signs of adjusting without nicotine. Then in the next two weeks this chemical substance will tend to stay in your bloodstream and the traces can reduce to a considerable amount.


When one smokes nicotine the substance can reach the bloodstream and the brain within 5 to 7 seconds of your first inhalation of the smoke. Absorption of the nicotine really depends on your body system. Studies are showing that by chewing, dipping or snuffing tobacco rather than smoking cigarettes will help you to absorb it more readily.

A pack of cigarettes contains about 20 mg of nicotine. By constantly putting nicotine into the body over time it can cause depression, weight gain, impatient symptoms, slower heart rate and anxiety. These symptoms are elevated especially during nicotine withdrawal when it is leaving the system or out of the body system.

Drug Tests

For answering this question you can also use a drug test. Taking one of these tests can provide you with the answers. The amount of cigarettes you smoke a day and the amount of time that you have used tobacco products is important but generally a passive smoker or occasional smoker will have nicotine in their body for roughly 2-4 days with more long term and frequent smokers experiencing nicotine in their system for up to a few months after they discontinue smoking.

These drug tests can be done in a few formats and they include:

Urinal drug tests: Urine is analyzed to search for traces of nicotine. While it may only persist in the body for 3-4 days after consuming tobacco products urine tests have been known to discover traces of nicotine for up to 15-20 days even with passive smokers.

Blood tests: Nicotine can stay in the blood and is transformed into a metabolite called Cotinine which mixes in the blood affecting the body. Blood tests are generally more accurate in detecting this substance in the body and if there is even a hint of it in the body it can be found using this method.

Hair test: A hair test conducted after a person has smoked for 1 month to 3 months regularly will show nicotine in their system for up to one year after they were smokers.

It is possible to help to clear it out of the body by drinking water, getting rigorous exercise and flushing toxins out of the body by eating healthy food and fruits containing vitamin c which will work as an antioxidant. In general though nicotine can leave quite a trace in your system and effect many systems throughout your body.

The Aftermath of Quitting Smoking

The appetite of a person can escalate after quitting the habit, due to the chemical changes caused by the sudden withdrawal from the habit of smoking.  You may feel anxious at times, and you may want to ‘lighten up’.  People used to eat too much in such circumstances to comfort themselves.  By overeating, endorphins get released and this leads to an increase in the blood sugar levels.  Instead of putting lot of weight under this situation, it is critical that you start exercising daily. Some simple steps that you can take in this regard are trying to go to a movie to avoid the craving, get into the habit of having chewing gums, start drinking lots of water and have someone to talk to so that you can keep yourself busy without being idle.  These activities divert your mind and get rid of emotions.

Towards a Green Environment

If you want to protect the environment from pollution, quit smoking.  Some of them struggle after quitting that they get into depressions. In such cases, getting rid of the habit becomes tough since you would end up in some other health problem when trying to get out of smoking.  If you cross all the obstacles with your will power, you would definitely feel better over time in reality. The damage created by stroke, heart and lung diseases reduced and you may feel better and healthier for long.  By quitting smoking, you further heal the great damage. Donate the money that is being spent on cigarettes to charity and help the poor and needy.

Best Way to Quit

Whenever you have the query, ‘how long will nicotine completely leave body’, it is true that you are trying to get out of smoking.  It is better and wise to avoid the initial cravings.  Herbal supplements, NLP [Neuro-Linguistic Programming], Hypnosis and Nicotine replacement therapy are the different treatments that could solve this problem.  As all the treatments are effective, select the one, which is suitable for you.

If you want to bring a turning point in your life, quit smoking.  Be confident in yourself.  90% of the battle gets over there. All the best!

Additional FAQs

Q: If a person smokes a pack of cigarettes daily how long after quitting would nicotine show up in your blood system? Is there a scale that equates the length of time that it will remain in the blood system based on the amount of cigarettes smoked daily?

A: Wait for a couple of months at least. The nicotine stays in blood at least for 2 weeks for a normal smoker. Once it is flushed in this timeframe, then it should be fine. Work out daily.

Q: If I smoke a couple of cigars a week without inhaling them, how long do I need to wait before a saliva or urine test.

A: For taking a saliva test, it is very safe if you could wait for at least 2 days fully. For a urine test, it would be better to wait for at least 2 weeks time.

Q: I have a “blood test” in 7 days. Do you know if the nicotine patches or the gum show up as having nicotine in my system.

A: The patch IS nicotine and WILL show up in any urine or blood test. The patch is only to help you not inhale smoke into your lungs and help with not actually smoke a cigarette. Best thing to do is STOP all together if your going to be tested.

Q: How long does nicotine stay in the urine?

A: The half-life of nicotine is 2 hours. This means that it takes only 14 hours for its concentration in the body to be reduced by over 99%. However, the sensitivity of urine testing effectively raises the half-life to 11 hours, requiring 77 hours for 99% elimination. In 111 hours (less than 5 days) your urine will be over 99.9% free of nicotine.

So the short answer is 5 days.

For those trying to quit, it may help to remind oneself that the difficulty is almost entirely psychological, which is to say that it’s a matter of will-power, not physiological dependence. It’s the habits of use (e.g., having a cigarette between your fingers, or a wad of tobacco in your cheek) that one must overcome.