Former Marlboro Man, Eric Lawson, dies at 72 from smoking-related disease

By Daniel S Levine,

Eric Lawson, who appeared as the ‘Marlboro Man’ in commercials for the cigarette brand in the late 1970s, has died from a disease linked to smoking. He was 72-years-old.

Susan Lawson, his wife, told The Associated Press that the cause of death was respiratory failure due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). He died on Jan. 10 at his San Luis Obispo home.

Lawson was also an actor with bit parts in Baretta and The Streets of San Francisco. He also appeared on Charlie's Angels, Baywatch and Dynasty. He suffered an injury while making a movie in 1997 and retired from movies and television. According to Time, he was the tough, rugged ‘Marlboro Man’ in print and television from 1978 to 1981.

He had been smoking since age 14 and continued to do so, despite doing an Entertainment Tonight spot that covered the negative results of smoking. Even after he was disgnosed with COPD, he kept smoking.

“He knew the cigarettes had a hold on him," Susan Lawson told the AP. "He knew, yet he still couldn't stop."

Several other ‘Marlboro Man’ actors have died from smoking-related diseases. David Millar died of emphysema in 1987. David McLean died of lung cancer in 1995.

image: YouTube screenshot



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