Perhaps incredibly, that lone cowboy held firm against the slings and arrows of the chasing pack for several decades. The vast resources of Philip Morris outmuscled medicine, bought the narrative and rode off into the sunset. By the 1990s, it was estimated that 90% of American children knew who The Marlboro Man was.
It was all very knife to a gunfight stuff until 46 U.S states decided to collectively tackle the issue. After years of sparring, the knockout blow was dealt in November 1998. The four major tobacco companies in the US were legally outmaneuvered and ordered to pay $206 billion compensation in the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA).
It was the largest civil litigation lawsuit in legal history.
As high noon loomed for tobacco, Philip Morris looked across the prairie to pastures new. Golden fields of wheat, barley and sugar cane promised the subtle addictive qualities - and profits - necessary to shore up strategic share price growth.
In 1988 the tobacco giant acquired Kraft Foods for $13.1 billion.
On November 2, 2015, fully 34 years after an initial study by Steve Phinney (unexpectedly) flagged the potential of fat as an efficient fuel for human endurance performance, the FASTER Study was formally published by Jeff Volek - with Phinney as a co-author.
The implications for sports nutrition are profound.
Today in Cape Town, South Africa, the sparring continues. Prof Tim Noakes begins a 7 day trial for medical “heresy” after a complaint by the President of the Association for Dietetics to the Health Professionals' Council of South Africa. Noakes’s legion of low carb supporters are wearing red - the color of Marlboro - to mark the occasion.
Processed food, sports drinks and sugar are in the dock this time. High noon is approaching.
It didn’t come fast enough for the 5 Marlboro Men actors and millions of others who have died from smoking related illnesses - but there is always hope.
Noakes has a 7 hour, 360 slide presentation prepared for his defence on Friday next. There is smoke. There is fire. And there is sugar money in here too.
Noakes is not the cowboy here.
The knockout blow is coming.....