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Commentary: Death of 'Marlboro Man' shows lethal cost of smoking

We've been told for several decades now that smoking cigarettes will give us cancer and heart disease and kill us in all kinds of other diseases. Now when someone has smoked so many cigarettes that they've corroded their lungs to the point where they can hardly breathe anymore, doctors call it Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is pretty much a death sentence when diagnosed. It's not a matter of whether you'll die from it, but how soon you will die from it.

Eric Lawson, the Marlboro Man, dies from smoking

Eric Lawson, better known as the actor who “played” as the “Marlboro Man” in those printed advertisements for the most famous product made by Phillip Morris tobacco company, died at age 72; his death determined to be caused by respiratory failure caused by COPD. In other words, his lungs were damaged so extensively, that they couldn't get enough oxygen in his blood stream even with having him breathe pure oxygen. Human lungs, like any other body part, deteriorate naturally over one's life span, but inhaling cigarette smoke rapidly accelerates that damage to lung tissue. The consequences of smoking cigarettes are inevitable for engaging in a behavior that is very unnatural, and unhealthy. All such uses of the human body in a way that nature did not intend have very harsh health consequences, such as cigarette smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol, recreation use of marijuana and narcotic drugs, engaging in homosexual sex, etc.

Remember those magazine ads for Marlboro cigarettes, the ones that said “come to where the flavor is, come to Marlboro Country.” Perhaps they should have said come to where the cancer is, after getting you addicted to chain-smoking three packs of Marlboro reds for 20 or 30 years, you'd be assured of getting cancer or at least COPD.

The Marlboro Man didn't just pitch the product, he used it himself. He was a heavy smoker and later in his life paid the heavy price for doing so. We've since learned that the tobacco companies made the cigarettes in such a way that they have become profoundly more addictive, and tougher to quit using, than they were in the days when Lawson first started smoking. That makes sense, they saw shrinking percentage of citizens smoking, so they sought to make the remaining smokers even more addicted to their product. But the basic problem with making money from selling people cigarettes, is, that the tobacco companies were profiting from a product that was gradually killing their customers. So the more they got them addicted to smoking cigarettes with higher levels of “tar” and nicotine in them, the more quickly they've been killing off their customers.

When I was in high school, smoking was totally un-cool, frowned upon, and stigmatized. If you smoked, you were a “burnout” or a “loser” or many other things that were said. But the anti-smoking messages has been so frequently and heavy-handedly communicated to our children in the government-run schools now, that they are rebelling. It has become more “cool” again for young and healthy people to smoke. They see Miley Cyrus smoking a joint on stage and now they think it's cool to smoke.

Maybe those pictures of black lungs should have been put on the packs of cigarettes. I suspect the surviving members of Eric Lawson's family agrees with that.

For me, cigarettes are disgusting. If you smoke, that's your choice but not mine. I'd rather eat a large with extra cheese and double peperoni on it. If you're going to call me a hypocrite for that so be it, but be sure to call me when it's Domino's knocking on the door.

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