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Cigar Industry Sends Aid to Haiti

Gregory Mottola
Posted: January 19, 2010

Many premium cigar companies have joined the world effort in providing aid to Haiti after last week's earthquake devastated the country. Altadis U.S.A. Inc., La Aurora S.A., Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia., Manufactura de Tabacos S.A. and General Cigar Co., all of which make cigars on the island of Hispaniola, which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, are sending relief in the form of money, medicine and food.

Altadis U.S.A., through its Montecristo Relief Organization, donated $25,000 to Food For the Poor, a group that was already active in Haiti before the earthquake hit on January 12. In addition, the Montecristo Relief Organization will match dollar for dollar up to $125,000 in contributions made by Altadis U.S.A. employees, customers, consumers and vendors donated by February 15.

Dominican-based Manufactura de Tabacos S.A. (Matasa), maker of Fonseca and Casa Magna cigars, and its distributor SAG Imports Inc., are also providing aid.

"Since the day after the earthquake, Matasa and SAG have been working closely with various local charitable and trade organizations that have come together to assist in the relief effort for our neighbors in Haiti," said Raquel Quesada of Matasa. "In addition, SAG will donate a dollar per box of 20 cigars or more sold during the months of January and February, [including] Fonseca, Casa Magna and all other boxed brands sold from SAG."

Quesada added that the company will re-evaluate Haiti's situation in March and determine further contributions according to the needs of the country.

The Fuente and Newman families, who are known for their charitable work in the Dominican Republic, have also contributed. According to Eric Newman, president of the J.C. Newman Cigar Co., the companies are sending aid through IDDI (Instituto Dominicano de Desarrollo Integral), the organization that oversees their Cigar Family Charitable Foundation. IDDI already had a presence in Haiti before the earthquake, and has been providing food, medicine and water to quake victims.

Dominican corporate conglomerate Grupo León Jimenes, which owns La Aurora cigars and Presidente beer, among other things, immediately addressed Haiti's humanitarian needs by contributing medicine, water, money and even soft drinks.

"Grupo León, in addition to medicine and water, is giving a huge monetary donation," said José Blanco of La Aurora S.A. "but they prefer to not reveal the dollar amount. They are also donating cases of Malta Morena, a carbonated, soda-like drink that they produce here in the Dominican Republic."

A spokesperson for General Cigar, a subsidiary of Swedish Match AB, confirmed that General joined the humanitarian effort by providing contributions to Haiti as well, but did not have details of the donation.

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