SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Eric Lawson, famous for portraying the Marlboro Man in cigarette ads during the late 1970s and early ‘80s, succumbed to respiratory failure due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, his wife, Susan Lawson, reported. As Lawson’s will stipulated, there was no funeral, and he was cremated. Lawson’s connection to the tobacco industry did not stop with his death, however. Susan discovered upon receiving her husband’s ashes that a federal health inspector had slapped a label on the urn.
“WARNING: The Surgeon General Has Determined that portraying the Marlboro Man is Dangerous to Your Health.”
“We felt it was important to inform anyone who may come across Mr. Lawson’s urn of the scientifically-proven dangers of portraying the Marlboro Man,” said Acting US Surgeon General Boris Lushniak. “At this point, the science is irrefutable.”
At least four former Marlboro Men who have appeared in the famous ad campaign have died of smoking-related diseases.The latest was Lawson, whose three-pack-a-day habit using the products he helped promote reduced him to ashes.
Susan says she doesn’t mind the label, hoping it would raise awareness against smoking, but did complain to reporters that even in death, her late husband “reeks of tobacco.”