© 2016 Primary Care Respiratory Society UK/Macmillan Publishers Limited. Health professionals tasked with advising patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) how to use inhaler devices properly and what to do about unwanted effects will be aware of a variety of commonly held precepts. The evidence for many of these is, however, lacking or old and therefore in need of re-examination. Few would disagree that facilitating and encouraging regular and proper use of inhaler devices for the treatment of asthma and COPD is critical for successful outcomes. It seems logical that the abandonment of unnecessary or ill-founded practices forms an integral part of this process: the use of inhalers is bewildering enough, particularly with regular introduction of new drugs, devices and ancillary equipment, without unnecessary and pointless adages. We review the evidence, or lack thereof, underlying ten items of inhaler 'lore' commonly passed on by health professionals to each other and thence to patients. The exercise is intended as a pragmatic, evidence-informed review by a group of clinicians with appropriate experience. It is not intended to be an exhaustive review of the literature; rather, we aim to stimulate debate, and to encourage researchers to challenge some of these ideas and to provide new, updated evidence on which to base relevant, meaningful advice in the future. The discussion on each item is followed by a formal, expert opinion by members of the ADMIT Working Group.