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Rights Managed
  • Owner: NBC News
  • Clip Name: 5114445167_s27
  • Date: 8/28/02
  • Title: Harper's Magazine Editor Lewis Lapham Discusses Smoking Inside His Office Behind a Glass Door
  • Production Unit: TDY
  • Media Type: AS
  • Media ID: NY-TDY-20020828-0001
  • Ardome ID: 1100100612201204622
  • Hit Time: 07:36:43
  • NA
  • Duration: 00:07:15;00
  • Location: Today New York Studio;New York City, New York;Washington, DC;
  • Era: 2000s
  • Personalities: Lapham, Lewis;Nader, Ralph;
  • Short Description: Harper's Magazine Editor Lewis Lapham Discusses Smoking Inside His Office Behind a Glass Door
  • Long Description:
    Front cover of Harper's Magazine shown.

    Lauer in live remote interview with Harper's Magazine Editor Lewis Lapham from inside his New York City, New York office while smoking a cigarette. Lapham says "Probably about two packs, maybe. Well, I think the laws are intolerant and repressive and unnecessary, however, they are the laws, so therefore, I have a glass door. That's right. And they can still do that. If they see that I'm smoking inside, they don't have to come into the office. If they choose to come into the office, then that's their decision. Well, that's the point of the door. So therefore, they're not exposed to it, so they are safe. No, because I have one of those machines that purifies the air, and I also can keep the window open. So as far as I am concerned, the atmosphere is all but antiseptic outside the door. They're delighted. Several of my editors themselves smoke. So they have no objection, and the ones that don't are protected. It is $21 a year. Very briefly. Once I thought about it, maybe 40 years ago. I appreciate the offer. I admire Ralph. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to have to sell out my principles or my belief in individual freedom for money. I mean, this is the kind of thing that Ralph objects to when it's done by Washington lobbyists and crooked politicians, and I wouldn't want to sell out the conviction or the principle for money, and I think Ralph would approve of that even though I admire him. I could lose readers, Ralph. I could lose readers. I mean, for the number of readers I gain because I don't smoke, I could lose readers who, perhaps, subscribe because I do. I could try it (quitting) for, maybe, a couple of days. I'm not sure I could try it for a couple of weeks. We can try that. I'll start trying today, Matt. I mean, I'll see how far I get. I'll start with a high heart, great expectation and pure will. But I don't know how far I'm going to get. I don't think so, Ralph. I mean, I would quote back to them Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who once said that the fresh air innocence were very good if you didn't take too much of them and that most of the worthwhile achievements in life have taken place in bad air. I mean, I associate smoke with metropolitan, urban civilization." In interview Lapham's friend consumer advocate Ralph Nader in Washington DC says "Well, he's certainly minimizing the exposure of second-hand smoke to his colleagues, but when they go into his little office for his sagacious advice, for--he's chief editor, they're going to be imbibing this smoke. And there's certainly a lot of studies that show that second-hand smoke causes lung cancer. It causes a far larger number of heart diseases that becomes fatal. It exposes children to aggravation of their asthma and respiratory diseases. So it is a serious problem. But I want to put Lou Lapham, who's the editor of this great magazine, Harper's, in a conflict-of-interest situation. I want him to choose between enriching the tobacco companies and impairing his lungs and his cardiovascular system, which have no say in the matter, on the one hand and the enlargement of his readers for Harper's on the other. And so I'm offering 1,000 subscriptions to Harper's magazine if he will stop smoking for two years. And I'm asking subscribers and other people around the country who love this excellent magazine, Harper's, to add their number of subscriptions so we can keep forcing him to choose between his magazine and his impairment of his health. Matt, you see what happens when nicotine takes over a reasonable mind? It isn't a matter of money. Harper's doesn't make any money. It's a matter of more and more readers for the poetry and articles and features in Harper's magazine, which is what Lou is all about. And, you know, I want people to really join this. This could be a real paradigm in the numbers. And people to submit gift subscriptions, five, 10, 15. The phone number for Harper's is 420-5744 in New York City. This idea, Matt, worked with the editor of The Progressive years ago, who was a chronic smoker. But scientists and health professionals aside, Lou, if Aristotle, Confucius, Ibn Khaldun (ph), Mother Teresa and Thomas Jefferson urged you to stop smoking, wouldn't you? Let's hear from you Harper readers to save Lou from his nicotine."

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