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Alexander Spears III; Leader in Cigarette Industry

February 01, 2001|From Associated Press

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Alexander Spears III, a former chairman and chief executive of Lorillard Tobacco Co., died Monday of lung cancer. He was 68.

Spears joined Lorillard in 1959 as a research associate and quickly climbed the ranks of the nation's fourth-largest cigarette maker.

In 1994, he was among the industry leaders who went before the House Subcommittee on Health and Environment and denied that cigarettes are addictive.

During the hearing, Spears called it "a witch hunt on the part of several of these congressmen to gain support for their own legislation."

Spears, whose father died of cancer, retired as chief executive in 1999 and as chairman last month.

Born in the coal-mining town of Grindstone, outside Pittsburgh, Spears attended Allegheny College and later earned his doctorate in chemistry from State University of New York in Buffalo.

Spears had smoked since age 18. He quit in 1977 after having a heart attack, according to the News & Record.

The newspaper reported that the form of lung cancer that killed him is most commonly associated with asbestos.

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