New job offer requires nicotine testing. I had nicotine. What do I do?
June 6, 2019 8:59 AM   Subscribe

I sometimes (1-2x/week) use 4mg nicotine lozenges to get through long, irregular shifts that often go overnight. I used a lozenge both Monday and Tuesday nights, only using about half each time. I just found out that the new awesome job I just was just offered requires a nicotine test by Friday (two business days of job acceptance). The documentation states the offer will be rescinded if I test positive. What are my options? What's the likelihood this level of usage will show up? Should I try to delay the testing till Monday?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do you know what kind of test? Urine, hair, saliva or blood? It will make a significant difference in detectibility .
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:10 AM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

The most likely test is a saliva or urine test for cotinine which is a nicotine metabolite. Nicotine itself has a short biological lifetime which makes it hard to test for.

Cotinine is readily detectable in urine for about a week and four days for saliva.

A smoker might absorb about 1mg of nicotine per cigarette. So you were exposed to the equivalent of two cigarettes, two days in a row.

It will definitely "show up" but it may be low enough that you can write it off as secondhand smoke exposure. Whether you meet the "smoker" threshold depends on the type of test, on your metabolism, and on how much you used last week.

I think you have two options here:

1) request a test that detects nicotine, cotinine, and anabasine. These tests can tell the difference between smoking cessation products and smoking (anabasine will not show up after use of nicotine lozenges). This will require you to disclose the use of the lozenges. Could you claim that you are a reformed smoker / will that negatively affect your job offer? I would not disclose that you use them to get through long shifts!

2) postpone the test until Monday and hope for the best. Your levels may have dropped enough by then that it falls into the "probably not a smoker" concentration range. It's already Thursday so you could have a long weekend planned with family or whatever, right?
posted by atrazine at 9:34 AM on June 6, 2019 [9 favorites]

I would try to delay until Monday. They should agree. If you are a true smoker, it is highly unlikely you would be able to quite long enough for the weekend to make a difference. If you are not feeling well tonight and tomorrow you would offer to come in 1st thing Monday morning.

Or, what atrazine said in their answer especially option 1.
posted by AugustWest at 11:13 AM on June 6, 2019

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