Conservative commentator and influential radio personality Rush Limbaugh has died. In late 2020, he revealed that his lung cancer had progressed further. He previously claimed that he quit smoking in the 1980s, but was spotted with cigars and e-cigarettes after making that statement. So, did he still smoke?
Rush Limbaugh quit smoking in the 1980s — but he was spotted with cigars in recent years.
Throughout his decades-long career, Rush raised eyebrows with his views on topics like the climate crisis or smoking. In an April 2015 episode of The Rush Limbaugh Show, he ventured so far as to deny that second-hand smoking can yield to health issues in the long run, before going on to state that smokers deserve more recognition.
"[Second-hand smoke] has been disproven at the World Health Organization and the report was suppressed. There is no fatality whatsoever. There’s no even major sickness component associated with secondhand smoke. It may irritate you, and you may not like it, but it will not make you sick, and it will not kill you," he told a caller.
Rush used his public platform to come out in defense of those struggling with nicotine addiction in the past, but it's uncertain whether he ever quit smoking completely. Reportedly, he gave up cigarettes after he went through a particularly bad bout of bronchitis in the 1980s. However, dozens of more recent photographs depict him with a cigar in hand. What's more, he is thought to have endorsed Volcano e-cigarettes towards the beginning of the 2010s.
How did Rush Limbaugh get lung cancer?
Rush announced that he was diagnosed with lung cancer on his nationally syndicated radio show on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, just days before receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom at The State of the Union Address. He began to experience shortness of breath around his birthday weekend, around Jan. 12, 2020. He received the official diagnosis a week later, on Jan. 20, 2020. While it's widely believed that the diagnosis directly correlates with Rush's history with smoking, he did not confirm these claims.
Rush revealed that his cancer progressed further in a recent health update.
"The scans did show some progression of cancer [...] It's not dramatic, but it is the wrong direction," Rush explained on an episode of The Rush Limbaugh Show in late 2020.
"It's tough to realize that the days where I do not think I'm under a death sentence are over [...] Now, we all are, is the point. We all know that we're going to die at some point, but when you have a terminal disease diagnosis that has a time frame to it, then that puts a different psychological and even physical awareness to it," he explained later on.
The conservative show host missed tapings in October 2020 to receive treatment.
It's understood that the treatment proved to be successful during the earlier stages, but in October 2020, Rush received devastating news about unexpected developments and stated that this was no longer the case.
"Now, prior [...], the scans had shown that we had rendered the cancer dormant. That’s my phrase for it. We had stopped the growth. It had been reduced, and it had become manageable [...]," he told Fox News.
The fear of dying began to imbue his day-to-day life, he remarked shortly afterward.
"You know, I wake up every day and thank God that I did. I go to bed every night praying I'm gonna wake up," Rush added.
Rush died on Feb. 17, 2021. He was 70 years old.