The Marlboro man was killed by a smoking disease and other tobacco truths

Not many seniors can forget those actors and models that depicted handsome cowboys sitting on their mighty steeds or sitting around a campfire pitching cigarettes in TV commercials, billboards and magazine ads.

Those advertisements seemed to be everywhere and featured one brand of cigarettes as a “man's cigarette.” They were promoted featuring strong masculine figures called the “Marlboro Man” cowboy and they became one of the most prominent advertising symbols of the mid-20th century.

Because of the slick advertising by the Philip Morris Company, Marlboro went from a relatively small brand to the world's best-selling cigarette.

It seemed as if just about everyone carried around the infamous red and white cigarette box with black lettering. If you were a smoker, you were not deemed part of the “cool crowd” unless you puffed on Marlboros.

One disturbing factoid about those rugged cowboys, all of which were long-time smokers, was many of them died of diseases of the lungs brought on by smoking cigarettes.

However, they are not alone; healthcare officials and government agencies conservatively estimate that about 443,000 people die prematurely each year from smoking or from exposure to secondhand smoke. Furthermore, about 8.6 million live with serious illnesses caused by smoking. Despite health risks and illnesses, approximately 46.6 million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes.

Not just everyday people have died from smoke-related illnesses; some famous movie stars and other luminaries have died from smoking or from exposure to second-hand smoke.

It is well known that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and Philip Morris Company, in addition to other tobacco companies, paid movie stars thousands of dollars, as well as supplying them with free cigarettes, to promote their products on and off-screen.

The relationship between cigarettes and the movies, started with the advent of the talkies. In 1927, Al Jolson, star of The Jazz Singer, pitched for Lucky Strike and his studio, Warner Brothers.

There have been more than 250 actors and actresses die due to smoking or from secondhand smoke. To name a few:

● Humphrey Bogart, an actor who had a 30-year career in the movie industry and appeared in 75 films, died of cancer of the esophagus at age 57;

● Johnny Carson, the renowned comedian and “The Tonight Show" host, died of emphysema at age 79;

● Nat "King" Cole, the famous singer who was the first African-American to host a TV show, died from lung cancer at 45;

● Walt Disney, the famous animator, producer and co-founder of the corporation known as The Walt Disney Company, died of lung cancer at 65;

● T.S. Eliot, the famous 20th century author and poet, died of emphysema at 76;

● Sigmund Freud, the world famous neurologist who founded the psychoanalytic school of psychiatry at the age of 65, died from cancer of the jaw at 83;

● Frank Sinatra, the famous singer and movie actor, died of a heart attack while also suffering from bladder cancer at age 82; and

● John Wayne the rugged actor and cowboy movie star, died of stomach cancer at age 72, making him one of the many celebrities that have died from smoking. At the time of his death, John Wayne was suffering from other cancers as well.

Smoking-related deaths are mainly due to cancers, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that is commonly referred to as COPD. Many smoking-related deaths are not quick deaths. For example, if a person develops COPD, they can expect several years of illness and distressing symptoms before they die.

Smoking increases the risk of developing a number of other diseases and many of them may not be fatal, but can cause years of unpleasant symptoms. They include, but are not limited to, cancer of mouth, nose, throat, larynx, esophagus, pancreas, bladder, neck of the womb (cervix); leukemia and kidney are all more common in smokers.

No one really knows why a person starts, stops and then starts smoking over and over again. Some people believe it is an addiction; others call it a weakness or a way of dealing with stress of daily life in general.

There is good news for those who puff on cigarettes. Stopping smoking can make a big difference to a person’s health. It is never too late to stop smoking to greatly benefit one’s health. For example, if a person stops smoking in early or middle age, before having cancer or some other serious disease, they may avoid most of the increased risk of death due to smoking.

For those who have smoked since being a teenager or young adult, if they stop smoking before the age of about 35, their life expectancy is only slightly less than that of people who have never smoked. Besides that, if people stop smoking before the age of 50, they decrease the risk of dying from smoking-related diseases by 50 percent.

About two in three smokers want to stop smoking, but lack the willpower. Willpower and determination are the most important aspects when giving up smoking. However, nicotine is a drug of addiction and many people find giving up a continual struggle.

Doctors, nurses and pharmacists can provide information, encouragement, and tips on stopping smoking. Your doctor or other healthcare professional may refer you to a stop-smoking clinic or similar program.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), which comes as gums, sprays, patches, tablets, lozenges and inhalers, can be a big help when attempting to stop smoking. People can buy NRT without a prescription.

The Great American Smokeout took place Nov. 17. This is an annual event held on the third Thursday of November by the American Cancer Society. The event encourages Americans to stop tobacco smoking. The event challenges people to stop smoking cigarettes for 24 hours, hoping their decision not to smoke will last forever. The first Great American Smokeout was held in San Francisco's Union Square on Nov 16, 1977.

If someone does attempt to quit smoking, many hospitals and employers offer free clinics and programs to help people to lay down the cancer sticks. Take time to research on the computer the different ways to battle the smoking addiction. The worldwide web has a wealth of information on how to quit smoking.

Editor’s Note: Butch Meriwether is not unlike anyone else. He has struggled throughout his entire life with what he calls a horrible cigarette addiction that began when he joined the Marine Corps at the young age of 17. He would smoke for a few years, decide to put them down and then for reasons unknown, would stop by a convenience store and purchase a pack of cigarettes. Butch suffered a massive heart attack during 2003, ended up with a quadruple bypass and then stopped smoking for more than 12 years, but he succumbed to the overwhelming urge to start smoking again. He started occasionally smoking a stogie with friends, progressed to a pipe, then onto cigarettes. That was a big mistake because in no time, he was smoking more than a pack a day. As of this writing, Butch has again stopped smoking and hopes the “ugly smoking giant” will not reenter into his life.


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RH 1 month, 3 weeks ago

My late sweet mother developed emphysema during her late 40's, smoked from 18 to 40 three packs a day till she finally quit, her mother my sweet Grandmother never smoked, both had the same issues, diabetes, bad heart, over weight, mom died at 65, Grandma died at 92, mom of a coma/emphysema complications, Grandma of a stroke, miss them both, am a firm believer both are in a better place, other wise I could never have dealt with the grief of their passing. We all have a date with our maker, some sooner than others!


Gunguy45 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Butch, I had a life event that made me want to quit. In Sep I started the Chantix regime (free through the Tricare online pharmacy) and now smoke maybe 1 1/2 cigs a day on avg. I use a little metal tube to put the cig in after a few puffs and relight the same one hours later. I'll probably be completely off them by Xmas at least.


kdmineruser1 1 month, 3 weeks ago

My wife has COPD. She has smoked since her early adult years. She is now 67 and I fully expect that within a couple years I will lose her! I almost did last year just a week before Christmas. If she catches the flue or a bad cold, it has the possibility to end her life!

COPD is a very expensive ailment to treat! Medications are approx. $300 each per month and she has to have two of those along with several other meds. Sure insurance covers these, partially, until about June each year, then that coverage maxes out and it's all up to us to pay for. So, if you are a regular smoker, you can kiss your fun retirement days goodbye!!


member221 1 month, 1 week ago

I smoked for thirty years, then over a dozen years ago, I thought I had come down with a very bad case of pneumonia. After my wife nagged me for a week, I finally saw the doctor. I was diagnosed with severe COPD. They were amazed that I had waited so long, years in fact, before going to a doctor over it. They gave me three years tops before it killed me. That was thirteen years ago and I am still living. I don't do much, because I no longer have the ability. I can no longer walk, am always hooked up to an oxygen air line, and my body is starting to shut down. There are times that I can't remember my wife's name, even though we have been married for nearly forty years. Truth be told, there are times that I truly wish I had died years ago when I could still walk, talk, play with my grandkids, but GOD decided that it might be better for me to live a bit longer. My wife asks me, when I am having a bad day, if I want to go to the hospital. I always decline, reminding her that I do not want to die in the hospital, but to die at home with the people that I love most. Hospitals can no longer do anything good for me. Even Duke Hospital admits that they do not know why I am still living. GOD purpose will eventually be known until i found testimonies of Great Dr. Lusanda in an online research and on Facebook, Like anybody would be, I was very skeptical about contacting him, but i later did email him and he started the remedies for my health. Thank God, i am cured from COPD by the herbal medication I received from him. I never thought that COPD can be cured, from the bottom of my heart I’m truly grateful,i pray you have long life so you can help many more people on earth with your herbal medical support. Contact Lusanda today, Email: drlusandaherbal(AT)gmail(dot)com or website on www(DOT)drlusandaherbal(DOT)com