Former Winston Model Sues Cigarette Companies
MIAMI (AP) _ A model who advertised Winston cigarettes and later had two lung cancer operations sued R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and two other cigarette makers Monday, saying they misled him about the dangers of smoking.
Alan Landers, 55, sued for unspecified damages in Palm Beach County court. Aside from the maker of Winston, Landers’ lawsuit also named Brown and Williamson Tobacco Co., American Tobacco Co. and distributor ABC Liquors Inc.
About 100 people around Florida have filed similar product liability lawsuits against tobacco companies and distributors in recent months. A dozen filed suits Monday in Palm Beach County.
The lawsuits, filed by Jacksonville attorney Norwood Wilner and associates in Tampa and Miami, seek unspecified damages for pain, suffering and lost income.
Landers appeared in many Winston ads in the late 1960s, on billboards, in news magazines and at subway stops. He’s had roles in television shows and movies, including ``Annie Hall.″
Landers, of Lauderhill in neighboring Broward County, has been cancer-free for nearly three years. He first smoked a cigarette at age 9.
``The cigarette companies did not tell me the truth about smoking,″ said Landers, his voice slightly hoarse from complications after his second surgery in 1993. ``I want everyone to realize the truth about smoking so they don’t start.″
He began smoking heavily as an adult and had his first lung surgery in 1988. He says he doesn’t smoke now.
Wilner, Landers’ attorney, says he has evidence that shows cigarette companies tried to downplay the dangers of smoking 50 years ago.
R.J. Reynolds spokeswoman Peggy Carter noted there have been warnings on cigarettes for almost 30 years. Landers says it was not enough to say cigarettes ``might be hazardous″ to your health.
Others across the country have sued on similar grounds.
Three broader anti-tobacco lawsuits are under way in Florida. Two class actions _ one for addicted smokers and another for flight attendants made ill by second-hand smoke have been filed by Miami attorney Stanley Rosenblatt.
In another lawsuit, the state is trying to recover the $1.4 billion cost of treating Medicaid patients suffering from smoking related illnesses. That lawsuit, which was filed in Palm Beach County, is on hold until a separate battle is resolved over a 1994 law stripping tobacco companies of some legal defenses.