Friday, May 29, 2009

The Winston Man dies of lung cancer... just one month before he was due to testify against big tobacco company

Captions: 1. Alan Landers in the Winston advert. 2. Malboro Man David McLean died of cancer that started in his lungs 3. Former professional rodeo rider Wayne McLaren posed for Malboro and died of lung cancer

As World No Tobacco Day falls on Sunday, May 31, we look back to March this year when the Winston Man died of lung cancer.

A male model who became the iconic face of Winston cigarettes has died of lung cancer, the Daily Mail ( reports.Alan Landers, who was known as the Winston Man, lost his battle with the disease just one month before he was due to testify in court against cigarette manufacturer RJ Reynolds.
The 68-year-old had led a multi-million dollar crusade against the tobacco industry, four decades after he first appeared on billboards and in magazine adverts across the U.S. to promote cigarettes as cool.
He was lined up as one of 9,000 tobacco victims in Florida suing cigarette manufacturers for failing to warn back in the 1960s and 1970s that smoking carried major health risks and could be deadly.
“Looking back on my career, I am ashamed that I helped promote such a lethal and addictive product to the children and adults of this country,” he explained before his death.
“Had I understood then what I now understand - that cigarettes are an addictive poison that kills almost 50% of their users - I would never have participated in their mass marketing.”
He added: “I was expected to portray smoking as stylish, pleasurable and no time was I ever told cigarettes could be dangerous to my health.
“I knew some people believed them to be unhealthy but the cigarette manufacturers denied that their product is harmful.”
In 2006, the Florida Supreme Court threw out an unprecedented $145billion class-action lawsuit against tobacco manufacturers - but handed Mr Landers and his fellow victims a fresh opportunity for justice by recommending that each should bring an individual case.
The court agreed that cigarette-makers had lied to cover up the harmful and addictive properties of tobacco and that all each plaintiff had to prove was that they had been individually harmed by an addiction to smoking.
A jury found in favour of the first of the 9,000 Florida cases - brought by the widow of a smoking victim - last month, and awarded her $8million compensation.
Landers' case against RJ Reynolds, the maker of Winston cigarettes, was due in court in April.
“I am unwilling to give the defendants their wish - to postpone the date of my trial - so much that I would die first. I want and intend to beat this latest challenge,” he insisted just two weeks ago.
Landers, who died at his home in Lauderhill, Florida, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1987 and received a new diagnosis of throat cancer earlier this year.
Up until his death he was on weekly chemotherapy, daily radiotherapy, also suffered with emphysema and struggled to breathe and talk.
He is not the first 'poster-boy' for the tobacco industry to lose his life to the very habit he promoted.
Two of the so-called 'Marlboro Men', actors Wayne McLaren, David McLean and Dick Hammer, all died of lung cancer, years after modelling for Marlboro cigarettes.
At the height of the smoking trend, when cigarettes were perceived as fashionable, Landers was in demand for his suave looks and James Bond-style features, posing for Winston advertisements in a variety of shots including one in a tuxedo and another pouring a bottle of bubbly for a glamorous blonde.
Posters bore slogans such as 'Winston's Down Home Taste! So real, so rich so good.'
“I was required to smoke on the set; constant smoking was required to achieve the correct appearance of the cigarette, ash and butt length,” he recalled.
Then a hard-core smoker, he later tried to kick the habit with nicotine patches and gum, but without success.
In 1992, doctors told the actor and model that the lung cancer diagnosed five years earlier had spread to a second lung, requiring radical surgery that involved severing a nerve to his vocal cords.
In 1996, he also underwent open heart surgery and a double bypass operation, necessitated - he says – “by the residual effects of smoking”.
He spent his final months living close to the poverty line and having to appeal for public donations to help pay his medical bills.
“I am extremely short-winded because sections of both lungs have been removed,” he explained two weeks ago.
“Scars from the surgery wrap around my back, permanently disfiguring me, but I feel lucky to be alive... I have fought too long and hard to give up now.”
He added: “The industry put profits over people, stonewalled criticism and concealed scientific evidence from the public and its customers.
“I call upon the lawmakers of this country to protect our children from this dangerous substance. Tobacco products should be regulated as the addictive products they are.
“I call upon the tobacco industry to compensate its victims, its former customers, who are suffering and dying from its products.'
His lawyer Tim Howard said: “He fought a good fight. Alan was an example of light, energy and courage.”


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  2. Anonymous9:25 PM

    It's soooo weired to see that 3 people who were on their billboards died of lung cancer... What are the chances ? They could've died of anything else, but no, they died of lung cancer. That's really funky. I hope the guys who invented and sell the electronic cigarette technology to pump into their ad campaigns some serious money and raise awareness about this brilliant technology.

  3. Thank you for the wonderful profiles. Both my father and uncle died from non-small Lung Cancer after having quit smoking for more than 25 years. Smoking is an addiction–and I agree with the doctor above who said the state tobacco settlement money could be better used.