REAGAN, Ronald (1911-), President. Autograph letter signed ("Ronald Reagan") to Mr. Sandstrom, Pacific Palisades, [CA], n.d. [c. 1965]. 1 page, 4to, in very fine condition.
"SHOULD BASEBALL PLAYERS GIVE COMMERCIAL ENDORSEMENTS TO SUCH PRODUCTS AS TOBACCO, BEER, ETC.?"
An intriguing letter in which the future President ponders the ethical issues surrounding the commercial endorsement of tobacco and alcohol by popular athletes. Responding to a request for a debate or article topic, Reagan begins with humor: "I have one but maybe you'll think I'm a crackpot or a blue nose." He quickly relates his own experience with commercial endorsements: "I remember once upon a time when Jack Dempsey won parents' hearts forever by refusing to endorse in an advertisement a tobacco. His basis was that as an example to young boys he just wouldn't do it. As a sports announcer my own sports summary was sponsored by a tobacco Co. & every few weeks with their full cooperation the commercial (delivered by me) used to be devoted to telling listeners we weren't interested in selling our product to anyone under 21." Finally, Reagan proposes his idea: "Therefore my topic suggestion is: 'Should Baseball Players give commercial endorsements to such products as Tobacco, Beer, etc. or should they stick to those things unobjectionable to parents? i.e. Razors, Cereals etc'."
Jack Reagan, the future President's father, struggled with alcoholism throughout his life. Influenced by his childhood memories, Ronald Reagan avoided alcohol with the exception of an occasional cocktail or glass of wine and never smoked cigarettes. Despite his personal restraint, Reagan continued to endorse tobacco while in Hollywood both in print and on commercials. Responding to questions about banning tobacco advertisements on television, Reagan once quipped that "some of the same people who favor banning the advertising of tobacco on television want to legalize the smoking of marijuana." In a 1980 Presidential campaign appearance in North Carolina, Reagan actively sought the support of the tobacco companies, promising to end "what has become an increasingly antagonistic relationship between the federal government and the tobacco industry. I can guarantee that my own cabinet members will be far too busy with substantive matters to waste their time proselytizing against the dangers of cigarette smoking." (Washington Monthly, March 1987, p. 18).