Another Marlboro Man has died from a smoking-related disease.
Eric Lawson, one of several rugged-looking men paid by the tobacco company Phillip Morris to represent the company’s Marlboro cigarette brand, died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) on January 10. He was 72.
Lawson was not only a spokesman for Marlboro, he even smoked the cigarettes – as many as three packs a day. By the 1990s, he saw the error of his ways, and spoke of the hazards of cigarette smoking in public service announcements for the American Cancer Society. Yet, even Lawson couldn’t shake the habit, and continued to light up even after his COPD diagnosis in 2006.
“He tried to speak to the kids, telling them don’t start smoking,” his wife, Susan, told the Associated Press. “He already knew cigarettes had a hold on him.”
Lawson was preceded in death by other Marlboro Men – Wayne McLaren, who died in 1992, and David McLean, who died in 1995. Both had lung cancer blamed on smoking.
Lawson’s death comes just weeks after the Surgeon General issued a new warning that cigarette smoking contributes to even more diseases than those that affect the lungs. Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak warned that using tobacco can cause liver cancer, colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes, age-related macular degeneration, erectile dysfunction, and rheumatoid arthritis. It can worsen asthma, cause cleft lips and palates in developing fetuses, and cause strokes in non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke. And due to design changes in modern-day cigarettes, current smokers are at an even greater risk of developing lung cancer than smokers five decades ago.
In an effort to better track quality or health-related problems associated with tobacco products, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched a new online tool where people can report any defects or unexpected health problems with their cigarettes; for example, if a cigarette smells funny or appears moldy. The assessment tool includes cigarettes, tobacco used for roll-your-own cigarettes, other smoking tobacco, cigars, smokeless tobacco, electronic cigarettes, or any other product made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption that is not regulated by the FDA as a drug or medical device. Consumers can report these issues at the Safety Reporting Portal at www.SafetyReporting.hhs.gov.