Tobacco stains on fingers

By Eina Panayotova

man vaping

The information in the following blog is based on external, third-party sources and is for educational / informational purposes only. The content of this blog is not intended to be representative of the products sold on this website.

Dark yellow stains on the fingertips is often a tell-tale sign of a heavy smoker. Stained fingers from smoking are often thought to be caused solely by nicotine and many refer to them as ‘‘nicotine stains’’. However, it is largely a result of long-term exposure to cigarette smoke and the chemicals found in cigarettes, not by the nicotine.

When a cigarette is lit, combustion releases smoke, and the smoke from cigarettes contains thousands of chemicals. After being made airborne in the smoke, some of these chemicals settle and cling to surfaces that they come into contact with – including skin.

Over time, the pores of the skin around the fingers of a smoker will typically be penetrated and become ingrained with the chemical residues in the smoke – and, consequently, it can be extremely difficult to remove these stains.

How to avoid stains on fingers?

By far the best option for any smoker is to stop smoking altogether. That will be the best solution against future cigarette stains on fingers. For those that do not or will not quit, heated tobacco products and e-cigarettes mean adults who want to continue using nicotine have better options available to them than continuing to smoke cigarettes. These are less harmful alternatives to cigarettes and will not stain fingers:


Vaping uses e-liquids which are vaporised into a vapour - instead of smoke - to carry nicotine into the body (although nicotine free e-liquids are also available). Unlike cigarette smoke, this vapour dissipates faster and leaves little to no staining on fingertips.

Nicotine pouches

Nicotine pouches are small pouches containing either tobacco-derived nicotine or synthetic nicotine, that are placed between the upper lip and gum to allow a slow release of nicotine into the bloodstream. There is no finger staining when using nicotine pouches.

Heated tobacco

Heated tobacco products replicate the real tobacco taste and ritual that comes with smoking cigarettes. Heated tobacco products heat tobacco rather than burning – using real tobacco and no liquid. Unlike cigarettes, this heating process produces a nicotine containing vapour. With heated-tobacco use there is no exposure to smoke - the primary cause of finger staining for smokers.

IQOS, is the No. 1 heated tobacco product in the UK[1]. In addition to leaving significantly less stains on teeth[2] and no stains on fingers, smokers who switched to IQOS say that their breath smells better than it did with cigarettes[3].

You can learn more about IQOS here.

Important information: IQOS is not risk-free. It delivers nicotine, which is addictive.

[1] Nielsen data as of September 2020, which encapsulates “smoke-free” product categories - e-cigarettes (hardware and consumables).

[2] Non-clinical laboratory study conducted in Switzerland with human teeth and the most widely used dental composites. Contrary to real world conditions, teeth were not exposed to other staining substances which may influence the results.

[3] Market research studies conducted in a number of countries with Iegal age nicotine users that either currently smoke cigarettes or smoked cigarettes in the past.”

Important information: If teeth are already stained, switching to IQOS will not reverse the color of those stains.

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This website is intended only for users of nicotine or tobacco products who are over 18.

This website is restricted to adults in the United Kingdom who would otherwise continue to smoke or use nicotine products. Our nicotine and tobacco products are not an alternative to quitting and are not designed as cessation aids. They are not risk-free. They contain nicotine, which is addictive. Only for use by adults. Please visit the Important Information page for further risk information.