Eric Lawson, a former Marlboro Man, has died at 72 from complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A smoker since a young teen, Mr. Lawson eventually spoke out about the dangers of cigarettes and their negative impact on his health. He was the fourth Marlboro Man to die of smoking-related disease.
As Surgeon General Boris Lushniak, MD, repeated in a summary of his recent report on smoking, enough is enough. Although the US has restricted most cigarette advertising, tobacco control measures must continue in order to decrease the prevalence of this scourge.
Surgeon General vs. Marlboro Man
The Surgeon General’s call to action includes:
- increasing cigarette excise taxes to deter youth smoking and promote quitting;
- providing access to cessation treatment;
- developing tobacco-free environments and hard-hitting anti-tobacco ad campaigns; and
- maintaining comprehensive, state-wide tobacco control programs.
The Surgeon General’s new report, which was published January 17, shows data that link smoking to 79 percent of all cases of COPD (what killed Mr. Lawson). The report also shows evidence that connects smoking to diseases of nearly every internal organ. Smoking causes 87 percent of all lung cancer deaths and 32 percent of coronary artery disease deaths. One out of three cancer deaths are attributed to tobacco. Smoking also increases the failure rate of all cancer treatments.
The report concludes that smoking causes Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and immune system weakness, increased risk for tuberculosis disease and death, ectopic pregnancy, impaired fertility, cleft lip and cleft palate in babies of women who smoke during early pregnancy, erectile dysfunction and age-related macular degeneration. In other words: Smoking diminishes overall health and reduces quality of life.
The consequences of smoking are never pretty. Mr. Lawson may have looked rugged as a Marlboro Man, but he wasn’t strong enough to withstand the devastation caused by cigarettes. No one is.
For free help to quit smoking, contact the North Shore-LIJ Center for Tobacco Control. Call us at 516-466-1980, or call the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-697-8487.