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How Long Does Nicotine Stay In Your System? [Dr’s View]

NB: This article on how long does nicotine stay in your system, was authored by Dr Andres Maldonado MD in line with the V&J Medical Review Policy.

TL;DR – We get asked a lot, about what length of time nicotine stays in the system and while we are a retailer of electronic cigarettes, we always aim to encourage only as a smoking cessation tool. This is called harm reduction. We believe it is in everyone’s long term interests to be nicotine-free too. 

learning how nicotine stays in your system

What is Nicotine?

First of all, we must know a little about what nicotine is. There is a plant genus called Nicotiana Tabacum that produces a derivative called nicotine which is the main product of tobacco.

How does nicotine work in your body?

Generally speaking, nicotine is capable of causing addiction through the stimulation of receptors found in our brain that, when stimulated, cause the release of dopamine (the happy hormone). In addition to its additive effect, it also has serious repercussions on the heart, cancer, and pregnancy. 

How does nicotine travel around your system?

Now… How does nicotine travel through our body? It all depends on the route it is consumed. For example, the most common route is through inhalation of tobacco smoke, by the time the smoke reaches the end of our lungs airways, approximately 25% is absorbed. Then it goes into the bloodstream and in as little as 15 seconds it is already circulating throughout our brain (Wow!). The maximum concentration of nicotine in our body is reached thirty minutes after consumption. 

So how long does nicotine stay in your system?

To talk now about how long nicotine lasts in our body, in medicine we speak of a term known as half-life. So half-life can be literally defined as “the length of time required for the concentration of a particular substance (typically a drug) to decrease to half of its starting dose in the body” in other words how long does it take to eliminate half of the drug. 

Let’s Talk About Half-Life

Now that we know a little about pharmacology (thanks to me, your welcome) the half-life of nicotine is two to three hours. It seems to be little, but the serious thing is not here but that nicotine is able to adhere to many tissues of the body and extends its half-life up to almost twenty hours!. With respect to the other routes, as in the case of being swallowed, by a complex mechanism of the body, nicotine passes through the liver metabolism decreasing its availability in the blood. That is why this is the route used in the case of people who already have an addiction and are using replacement patches.

How To Break The Addiction?

Nicotine has an addictive power and the ability to do harm. Under no circumstances should nicotine be orally ingested, which is why there are regulations in the UK and Europe on quantities of nicotine in e-liquids. In the case that you are a consumer of tobacco, then there are a variety of treatment options recommended by medical specialists to eliminate this killer habit, you just have to take the first step. For a source guide on quitting smoking and where to find NHS information, check out the guide below:

Next Steps To Take


  1. Nicotine and health. (2014). Drug and therapeutics bulletin52(7), 78–81.
  2. Hallare J, Gerriets V. Half Life. [Updated 2020 Oct 6]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from:
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