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I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that all those Marlboros might’ve had something to do with it.
Eric Lawson, one of the first to portray the rugged face of the Marlboro cowboy for the cigarette’s television adverts, died earlier this month from COPD. The disease, which is extremely progressive, causes uncontrollable coughing, disgusting mucus, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. Cigarettes are its leading cause. It is almost always fatal, essentially causing the diagnosed to suffocate due to loss of respiratory function.
Lawson, who was 72, took up smoking at the age of 14 (that’ll do you in for sure), and played the Marlboro Man from 1978 to 1981 — the glory days, way before the marketing of smoking products became so heavily regulated.
Ironically, ol’ Lawse isn’t the only former Marlboro star to succumb to smoking-related illness. Wayne McClaren, who was featured in Marlboro print ads, and David McClean, who made the rounds in print and television, both passed away due to lung cancer, in 1992 and 1995, respectively.
Here’s one of Lawson’s classic Marlboro Red spots:
Man, what a way to go, guys. The lesson to be learned here: don’t smoke cigarettes. But if you must, do so in moderation and kick the habit before you get married.
In Lawson’s defense, though, not much was known about the long-term prognosis of smokers at the age when he started chiefing cigs, and when he was diagnosed with COPD, he kicked the habit and became an anti-smoking advocate.
He leaves behind six children, and there’s no doubt that he’s wrangling steers and rippin’ Reds with Peter and Paul in heaven right now.