Blowing smoke up your ass: and you thought it was just an adage

By Paul Bergen of

A woman hold a cigarette and lighter behind her back.


This really has nothing to do with vaping at all but it is amusing.

Vaping has come in at a time when the ways of using tobacco and/or nicotine don’t exhibit quite the imagination when compared to days of yore.

Nowadays the choices are:

  • inhaling
  •  chewing
  •  and a little bit of snuffing.

Just a few centuries ago the range included drinking liquids of steeped tobacco leaves, applying tobacco poultices, and engaging in enemas. The last two were reserved to treat medical conditions. And the last, tobacco enemas, was embraced by Europeans as a legitimate medical treatment and persisted for some time.

Bellows for tobacco enemas.

In so far as Amerindians employed enemas in their medical treatments before contact, the Europeans followed. And just as Europeans appropriated the consumption of tobacco by smoking pipes and cigars and by snuffing, so too they introduced the practice of using tobacco smoke in rectal devices known as clysters….The tobacco clyster, using either smoke or an infusion, depending on whose authority was being followed, was widely practiced well into the nineteenth century..Tobacco clysters were used in the hopes of treating ailments of the colon and the bowel. They were also recommended in attempts to resuscitate drowned individuals, as well as those who had suffocated, had convulsions and fits, or were frozen. (pgs 84-5: Goodman’s Tobacco in History)

You can see the bellows for the smoke in the fancy kit above.

Reading this passage reminded me of reading another years ago in an alternative health guide suggesting that, if someone was having a heart attack, you should immediately force a tablespoon of cayenne powder down their throat. Rather than sounding like good advice it sounded more like adding insult to injury (though having your tongue on fire might distract you from the chest pains).

Though today there is a thriving business in colonics, nobody seems to be working to bring back the smoke enema. Were the the smoke suppository to regain popularity, the anti-smoking folks would have to go back to the word farm to come up with a catchy term for this new health risk…it is still first hand smoke but it is playing in a new venue.

No doubt once you unclenched after getting your clyster you would be endangering the others in the vicinity with a lesser known variation of second hand smoke.

Next: Read more about the history of vaping.

6 thoughts on “Blowing smoke up your ass: and you thought it was just an adage”

  1. I never would have thought in a million years that’s where the saying came from ! 😀 That might even be better than the one about ‘getting the sh**ty end of the stick’. 😀

    Definitely nothing to do with electronic cigarettes, but it still rocked. Very nice, indeed. +5

    1. Thank you, Brad, but I was surprised that, without permission, you reproduced it vertabrim on your blog with no attributive links and all internal links stripped out.

  2. Brilliant post, Paul. Just shows science doesn’t always answer the questions that human nature wants to know (i.e. why did he stuff 75 packets of snus up his rear end!)

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