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Marlboro Man: Eric Lawson dies from COPD

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Actor Eric Lawson, also known as the Marlboro Man from 1978 to 1981, passed away at his Calif. home on Jan. 10. The Associated Press reported on on Jan. 27, 2014, that Lawson died from a smoking-related illness. He was 72.

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Lawson's wife, Susan Lawson said the cause of death was respiratory failure due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Eric Lawson had small roles on television shows including "Baretta," "The Streets of San Francisco," "Charlies Angels," "Dynasty" and "Baywatch." His acting career ended in 1997 when he sustained injuries on the set of Western film.

Years later, Lawson appeared in an anti-smoking commercial that parodied the Marlboro Man. He also discussed the negative effects of smoking in a segment on "Entertainment Tonight; however, he was still smoking at that time. Susan Lawson said despite not being able to quit smoking, he was proud of the interview.

Eric Lawson started smoking at the age of 14 and did not quit smoking until he was diagnosed with COPD.

"He knew the cigarettes had a hold of him," Susan Lawson said. "He knew, yet he still couldn't stop."

Eric Lawson is the fifth Marlboro Man who has died from a smoking-related illness.

  • David McLean died of lung cancer in 1995.
  • Dick Hammer died of lung cancer in 1999.
  • David Millar died of emphysema in 1987.
  • Wayne McLaren died of lung cancer in 1992.

At one time, Philip Morris denied that Wayne McLaren had ever appeared in any Marlboro advertisements. However, Philip Morris has been quick to point out that Max Bryan "Turk" Robinson is still alive and well. Robinson was recruited at a rodeo to a Marlboro Man in the 60's, even though he didn't smoke.

Eric Lawson was survived by his wife Susan, six children, 18 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

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