Eric Lawson, who was known for portrayed the ruggedly handsome Marlboro man in cigarette ads during the late 1970s, has died of the effects of smoking at the age of 72.
Lawson died January 10 at his home in San Luis Obispo from respiratory failure due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, his wife, Susan Lawson said Sunday.
Lawson was an actor with bit parts on TV shows when he was hired to appear in Marlboro ads from 1978 to 1981. A smoker since age 14, Lawson later appeared in an anti-smoking commercial that parodied the Marlboro man and an “Entertainment Tonight” segment that discussed the negative effects of smoking. Susan said her husband was proud of the interview, even though he was still smoking at the time, and continued the habit until he was diagnosed with COPD. “He knew the cigarettes had a hold on him,” she said. “He knew… yet he still couldn’t stop.”
Other actors and models who pitched Marlboro brand cigarettes have also died of smoking-related diseases including David Millar, who died of emphysema in 1987, and David McLean, who died of lung cancer in 1995.
Lawson is survived by six children, eighteen grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren.