1950: The decline of asthma cigarettes

Figure 10 —
The Medihaler was introduced in 1957.
It was light and fast acting. 

The period for asthma cigarettes was a lingering process. Trying to convince elderly asthmatics who had benefited ~ means of inhaling medicated smoke for years that there were better options was not easy.

Even as better products were introduced to the place of traffic, asthmatics didn’t want to bestow up something that worked for them. It’s not at all different than today’s asthmatics fussing to boot the end of popular medicines like Chromolyn, epinephrine and theophylline.

Asthma cigarettes continued to be popular even after the discovery of epinephrine in 1900 and like the solutions of epinephrine and atropine became options with regard to home use with the invention of the mass-producible marked by ~ity nebulizer in the 1930s, asthmatics quiet lit up the powders.

Sales of asthma cigarettes and powders stayed correspondent because they provided breathing relief, were inferior expensive than those other options, and were to be availed of without a prescription.  Plus the nebulizers suitable were bulky and fragile, as well taken in the character of expensive. Plus, I would imagine, the hallucinogenic general provided by smoking drugs was furthermore nice, and perhaps even addicting.

Yet season asthma cigarettes were the preferred chary due to convenience and cost, that all changed in 1957 with the origination of the inhaler, and the remit of the Medihaler-Iso and the Medihaler Epi.  These inhalers on these terms instant relief, were relatively inexpensive, and easily carried in pockets and purses.

As sales since asthma inhalers sales went north, sales of asthma cigarette went south.  Yet despite the decline in sales, in that place were still people who did not cannot do without cannot dispense with to give up the cigarettes.  This was compounded ~ means of the fact that the cigarettes were profitable over the counter, while the inhaler was merely available by prescription.

Yet it was all over for lovers of asthma cigarettes in 1980.  Slowly reviving among the desires of mankind was the longing for recreational drugs.  There had before that time been efforts to clean up the streets of drugs so as marijuana and cocaine, and after those drugs were difficult to draw near by, kids would often result to purchasing asthma cigarettes.  Yet they did not force them because they had asthma, yet because they wanted to get dark. (9)

So studies were conducted to ratify whether or not asthma cigarettes indeed worked, and whether they should be taken off the shelves for genial.

It must be noted here that there were many other options for asthma, greatest part of them far better than inhaling failure.  There were medicines such taken in the character of alupent and albuterol as fast acting relief medicines, and theophylline and beclomethasone in the same manner with asthma preventative medicines.

Plus there was atropine, sold in big brown bottles to keep the day-star from spoiling the product.  It was stored in the refrigerator to impede the contents from breaking down.  It was drawn up ~ dint of. syringe, about 0.5cc, and mixed with 0.3cc of normal salt-pit in a nebulizer, and inhaled.

There was besides another new product recently added to pharmacy shelves, and this was the synthetic reading of atropine called ipatropium bromide (Atrovent).  It was serviceable either as an inhaler or elucidation, and was much easier and much safer to inhale than any asthma cigarette.

Since atropine with the understanding the same relief as asthma cigarettes, less the hallucinogenic effect, there really was ~t one further need for over-the-calculator asthma cigarettes.

H.L. Elliot and J.L. Reid described in a 1980 quantifying pronoun published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacy a study that concluded asthma cigarettes made of “pertaining preparations containing Atropine-like alkaloids” were lawful as effective as using ipatropium bromide (Atrovent).

Dr. R. Schiffman’s Asthma comminute (3)

The researchers concluded that “each overdose of asthma cigarettes is manifestly efficient of producing pharmacological effects (hallucinations, delerium, tachycardia).”

They likewise concluded that the dose of inhaled medication from cigarettes acquisition to the lungs was “variable and unpredictable.”

Likewise, they conspicuous that “In view of increasing proof of abuse, there appears to exist good reason to restrict availability of these preparations. Although a herbal cigarette might possibly be recommended during the term of the asthmatic who insists on continuing to vanity,” a majority of asthmatics would have just as much benefit with fewer espouse a cause effects by using their Atrovent inhaler. (10) By 1985 asthma cigarettes were sequestered from the shelves of all U.S. Stores.  Yet time being generally extinct in western nations, they are quiet available in some third world nations.


Jackson, Mark, “Asthma: The Biography,” 

H.L. Elliot and J.L. Reid, “The Clinical Pharmacology of a Herbal Asthma Cigarette”British Journal of Clinical Pharmacy (1980, 10, 480-490) 

Picture used with permission from Inhalatorium.com

Jackson, Mark, “‘Divine Stramonium’: The Rise and Fall of Smoking beneficial to Asthma,”  Med Hist., 2010 April; 54(2): 171–194.

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