Tobacco enemas for everyone!

Out of the depths of historic woo rises the ancient and leathery tobacco enema kit. Gaze with horror. Gaze!

Made by Evans & Co of London, this apparatus was used to revive people who were ‘apparently dead’, by making use of tobacco’s stimulant qualities. The bellows were used to blow tobacco smoke up the rectum (or into the lungs) … Tobacco enemas were popular from the 17th to the early 19th century. [Source]

Tobacco Enema Kit, 1774 (via Richard Kadrey)


  1. There are scholarly comments across the internet debating if this is the origin of the phrase “Blow smoke up someone’s arse”. 

  2. It looks almost as pleasant as lung cancer.
    Although presumably it would give you arse cancer instead.

    Brings a whole new transatlantic confusion to “I’m just popping out for a f*g” 

  3. I love it, some sort of advert placement engine has decided that an advert for hypnotherapeutic “Stop smoking in one hour” should adorn this article. 
    I think it would take most people less than an hour to decide that smoking in this way was not what they wanted to do.

  4. If they where dead that probably wouldn’t help. And if they where unconscious  smelling salt would probably work better. If they’re not reacting to smelling salts, it’s fairly sure they wouldn’t react to that.

    1. “If they where (sic) dead that probably wouldn’t help.”
      …PROBABLY?!? What, we end up with tobacco zombies?

      1. Well, the clinical indicator of dead absent other external causes in the modern medicinical world: “Does the person react?” “Is the heart beating?” “Is there breath?” and if you want to go out on a limb “Does the EEG look like braindead?”

        After about 10 minutes of being considered clinically dead, you’re considered officially dead.

        But, it has been known that people who where pronounced clinically dead have occasionally come back to life. So the modern medical opinion of “dead” can’t be all there is to it. In fact, medicine is pushing the boundary of dead further and further out. By now, under some conditions, you’re considered alive hours after you stopped breathing and having a heartbeat.

        So I believe that the people backthen before modern medicine noticed some strange things too where people who seemed dead, weren’t really. I can only surmise that this interesting smoking device is one (perhaps missguided) attempt to push out the boundary a little. But then, has anybody actually tried the thing in modern times? I mean, we don’t have to go so barbaric. But is there any clinical study of the effect of a nicotine injection on patentients considered clinically dead? No? So who knows…

  5. So, is this method of smoking much healthier? Or do you just trade lung cancer for colon cancer?

  6. Not really woo.  It’s a stimulant, and rectal administration is a great way to get fast absorption. It’s a probably not very effective equivalent to an epinephrine injection.

    1. Yup. Just like insufflation (nose) or ocular administration (eyes). Yes, that Looper thing is real. With a capsule or pill, it’s colloquially called ‘plugging’.  This is the same reason ‘dip’ is supposed to hit harder than cigarettes – sublingual and gum administration, sped up by fiberglass cutting a path into the arteries. I’d avoid putting fiberglass in your nicotine butt bellows, though.  

  7. I read that the reason “blowing smoke up your ass” as synonymous with nonsense is that one of the first scientific papers about saving drowning victims was a comparison of the rectal tobacco treatment versus the primitive forms. of artificial respiration.

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