Ex-Marlboro man dies from smoking-related disease
LOS ANGELES (AP) — When it came to portraying the rugged western outdoorsman who helped transform a pack of filtered cigarettes into the world's most popular brand, Marlboro Man Eric Lawson was the real deal.
Ruggedly handsome, the actor could ride a horse through the wide-open spaces of the Southwest, from Texas to Colorado to Arizona or wherever else the Phillip Morris tobacco company sent him to light up while representing a true American icon, the cowboy. And he really did smoke Marlboro cigarettes, as many as three packs a day.
Lawson was still smoking in 2006 when he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He died of the disease at his home in San Luis Obispo on Jan. 10. He was 72.
For three years in the late 1970s and early '80s, Lawson portrayed one of the most iconic figures in both advertising and popular culture.
And for the past several years, Lawson had spoken out fiercely about the hazards of smoking, doing a public service announcement for the American Cancer Society in the 1990s, years before he was able to bring himself to quit. "He tried to speak to the kids, telling them don't start smoking," his wife, Susan Lawson, told The Associated Press. "He already knew cigarettes had a hold on him."