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Cigarette smoking kills the third marlboro man

Fromer Marlboro Man Eric Lawson, 72, died Jan. 10.

Earlier this week it was reported that, for the third time, a Marlboro Man actor died of a smoking related disease after spending the last years of his life speaking out fiercely about the hazards of smoking. There s a biblical principle that underscores the tragic irony of these deaths, and it s summed up in one Hebrew word.

But first, a little history.

For those not old enough to remember the Marlboro Country ads, let me describe what we saw on our TV screens day and night.

A handsome, strong cowboy dubbed the Marlboro Man sat on his majestic horse with an endless panorama of spacious, green fields in the background, known, quite perversely, as Marlboro Country. And as he sat astride his horse, he was smoking Marlboro cigarettes for a time, the best known product brand in the world.

The message, of course, was clear You could live in Marlboro Country too!

You could even be like the Marlboro Man himself if you simply puffed away on these cigarettes sitting on top of the world, the vast wilderness your playground and the cloudless sky the open roof over your home. Breathe deep and inhale the beauty of Marlboro Country!

In truth, the real Marlboro Country is the lung cancer ward in the local hospital, where a little girl watches her daddy breathe his last breath still smoking through a hole cut in his throat.

I actually wrote about this in a 1999 book called Go and Sin No More with reference to a previous Marlboro Man who died of lung cancer. Now the tally is three actors who believed in their product so much that they endorsed it with their lives and sealed it with their deaths, seeking to warn others before it was too late.

According to a recent AP news report, When it came to portraying the rugged western outdoorsman who helped transform a pack of filtered cigarettes into the world s most popular brand, Marlboro Man Eric Lawson was the real deal.

Ruggedly handsome, the actor could ride a horse through the wide open spaces of the Southwest, from Texas to Colorado to Arizona or wherever else the Phillip Morris tobacco company sent him to light up while representing a true American icon, the cowboy. And he really did smoke Marlboro cigarettes, as many as three packs a day.

Lawson was still smoking in 2006 when he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He died of the disease at his home in San Luis Obispo on Jan. 10. He was 72.

The report documents the smoking related deaths of two other Marlboro men, Wayne McLaren, a former rodeo rider who died in 1992 of lung cancer that he blamed on his lifelong smoking habit … and David McLean, who died in 1995 of lung cancer that he also blamed on smoking. He was 73.

What is the biblical principle that warns about this?

It is found in the Hebrew word acharit (pronounced a cha reet the ch sounds like the Scottish ch in the word loch ), which is related to the Hebrew word for back. It literally means that which comes after the after effects the final consequences the end.

And the principle is simple From our normal vantage point, we cannot see someone s back. We don t see what comes after. And so, if I tore the back of my suit jacket, leaving an ugly hole, you would never know it if you only saw me from the front. From that angle, I would look fine. But as soon as I walked past you, you would gasp.