At one time he embodied the rugged individualist man who could defy the odds. Smoking was the emblem of the handsome model for Winston cigarettes.
Now Alan Landers, the anti-smoking advocate is dead. The 68-year-old was undergoing treatment for throat cancer. News of his death, February 27th, appears on his Web site Winstonman.com.
Landers began smoking as a child, reports the Los Angeles Times. In his ads he would pose with a Winston when smoking was glamorized in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. He portrayed smoking as stylish, pleasurable and attractive.
Landers, whose real name was Levine, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1987 and had surgery to remove tumors in one lung. Six years late, cancer was found in his other lung. After surgery again in 1993, he was disabled with chronic shortness of breath.
In 1997 he had double bypass heart surgery.
Joined by Florida attorney Woody Wilner, Landers sued four cigarette makers in 1995. His case against R.J. Reynolds is still pending and was scheduled to go trial in April.
Landers directed his fight against Big Tobacco to young people, urging them not to smoke. He and others call for Big Tobacco to stop making cigarettes and for tobacco products to be regulated as addictive drugs.
Wilner tells IB News, “ Alan Landers was a great fighter and he realized after his career he had been duped into promoting cigarette smoking as sexy and attractive. He spent his life fighting R.J. Reynolds and what they stood for.”
"I helped save lives," he told Florida's Sun-Sentinel newspaper shortly before his death. "I told the truth: Eventually, smoking will kill you. It's slow. But it'll kill you."
In February, tobacco giant Philip Morris USA was dealt a blow when a Fort Lauderdale jury awarded the widow of a smoker $8 million in damages. The company says it plans to appeal.
Jurors were allowed to rely on the previous court findings of the Engle class-action that established tobacco companies knowingly put out a dangerous product and worked to hide the dangers from the public. When the class was decertified in 2006, plaintiffs were told to file individual cases in Florida courts, but could rely on the Engle findings. #