The image was iconic: A man in a red shirt, cowboy hat, and rugged denim. He represented freedom, toughness, masculinity—and smoking.
Lawson had started smoking when he was 14-years-old, just one among a generation that formed the habit because it was cool, and "grown-up". Only later did many realize that money was being made off of the formation of a dangerous habit among Americans.
Lawson would speak out against smoking later in life. At one point he appeared in a parody ad that mocked the manner in which cigarette companies advertise to potential customers.
Even so, Lawson was unable to stop smoking, only kicking the habit after he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD.
Lawson died on January 10th of respiratory failure brought on by the disease.
Where the flavor was wasn't where it was at...Eric Lawson, Marlboro Man, died of COPD http://t.co/rE6t7o7n5D
— John Aaron (@RomanceTheSmoke) January 27, 2014
It is noted that models and actors that have advertised for cigarettes like Lawson eventually died of cigarette related illnesses.
These people started off thinking that they wanted to smoke. Before they knew it, they couldn't stop.
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) January 27, 2014
What can we learn from the tragic losses of the real life faces behind the carefully planned images?
We know that it's probably better to never start smoking in the first place. Many life-long smokers start young. If you are a parent, consider a candid conversation with your kids about the side effects of cigarettes. This may be hard if you're a smoker yourself, but share why you wouldn't want your children to join you in forming a habit smoking.
Also, cigarette smoking can be one of the hardest habits to break. Some find it virtually impossible. If you find that you cannot quit on your own, don't be afraid to contact a support group or enter a rehabilitation center for treatment.
Image via livenews