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B R E ATH


A custome lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the


Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomelesse.


King James I and VI in A Counter-Blaste to Tobacco, 1604


World War I horse gas mask


A pledge to abstain from smoking until the age of 21 Primitive Methodist Anti-Cigarette League, 1906 b16557050 Wellcome Library


World War I horse gas mask Leather, jute, iron, canvas, fi bre and resin Germany?, 1914–18 RRa0036 / A635089 Science Museum / L0058466 Wellcome Images


Gas masks were a regular feature of life in World War I – for horses, dogs and men. Between 1916 and 1918, 200 British horses died from gas poisoning and a further 2000 were treated for skin and eye irritations. Designed to prevent damage to the sensory


organs – a horse’s nose and mouth or a man’s nose, mouth and eyes – the protective masks actually placed soldiers and animals in an enforced state of sensory deprivation. Soldiers were instructed to fit horse masks before their own, because horses couldn’t be taught to hold their breath.


Poster showing smoke circulating through the heart and lungs Colour lithograph Germany, c.1900 RRd0144 / 642527i Wellcome Library


The chemist’s war


Known as ‘the chemist’s war’, World War I became a scientific cat-and-mouse game as nations desperate to end the stalemate of trench warfare developed ever more effective chemical weapons. At the Battle


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