Anyone who has watched movies, cartoons, or even the old silent movies can conjure up the image of the nefarious villain with a large mustache and cigar hanging from the corner of his mouth. As much as a cigar has been a status symbol of wealth it has often also been affiliated with the greedy fat-cats who take advantage of the working class folk, such as myself and many of our readership. The truth is that not everything that a cigar comes in touch with is a bad thing. In fact many in the cigar community are benevolent and philanthropic. Although you might not hear about it on the evening news, some Cigar companies are giving back in big ways to their community and country. Two such examples are the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation spearheaded by the Fuente and Newman families and the corporate responsibility program of General Cigar.
General Cigar’s Corporate Responsibility Program:
While General Cigar does not have a charitable foundation per se, they do have a robust corporate responsibility program that directly benefits and helps the people in their local communities. According to their literature on the program, General Cigar, “has actively assisted the people of the Dominican Republic and Honduras through a variety of initiatives which are underwritten solely by the company. In fact, in the 27 years since these outreach initiatives began, General Cigar has continuously financed its socially-conscious programs without soliciting donations of any kind.” They have done these initiatives on the Following fronts.
Education: Literacy outreach is a core component of their program and to date “the company allocates hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to support programs that increase literacy among employees and residents of the D.R. and Honduras, while also providing scholarships for its employees and providing complete funding for schools in both countries.”
They have also completely funded and provided a robust literacy initiative that gives the people of their factory, farms, and even the surrounding communities the opportunity to learn how to read and write. The program is run in-house and the instructors and materials (a curriculum approved and recommended by the Dominican and Honduran Governments) are provided by General. To date the program has been very successful and the people have been overwhelmingly thankful for such a precious gift.
General also provides continuing education assistance and scholarship programs that help their employees reach their academic dreams. According to their internal documentation, “all of General Cigar’s upper and middle management employees hold college degrees. This investment continues to make General Cigar one of the Dominican Republic and Honduras’ most professionally and technically-advanced companies.” This type of investment in the people has not only richly rewarded their personal lives, but also General’s workforce as a whole.
Health: General’s efforts in the health initiative department are many, but perhaps two prongs worth mentioning are their endeavors to provide medical screening and crop and nutrition assistance to the people. General Cigar has generously provided, “considerable resources toward creating a better quality of life for its staff. Health insurance, dental exams and blood pressure screenings are available for employees of both countries. In addition, the company provides transportation, including new bicycles to employees and conducts intramural baseball and soccer leagues within their Dominican and Honduran facilities.”
And as for their nutritional ventures, “General Cigar purchases citrus fruits, vegetables, dairy products, livestock and fish which are then sold at below wholesale prices to company employees.” By doing this, General has found another way in which they can help their employees maintain a healthy lifestyle for themselves and their families.
Reforestation: One last area General has been proactive in is their reforestation program. Many trees are used in the creation of General’s unique packaging designs and General firmly believes in giving back to the land that so generously gave to them. So they have developed a reforestation program that “replenishes cedar and mahogany trees to replace those that are depleted in making their handsome cigar boxes.” In fact, “each farm in the Dominican Republic and Honduras participates in the reforestation activities which are now part of the company’s standard agricultural operations. To date, more than 35,000 trees have been replanted.”
These are just a few examples of the many types of programs that General Cigar is implementing in their corporate responsibility initiatives.
The next foundation is the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation, which is a foundation started by and maintained by the Fuente and Newman Families. As the literature from the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation (CFCF) states, “What began as a dream to add a wing onto a local school has transformed into a 23-acre community that now empowers the entire area through healthcare and education. Thanks to the generous cigar smokers who participate in the annual Toast Across America, the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation is truly changing the world…one child at a time.” It started with a small goal but has quickly burgeoned into a comprehensive charitable foundation that is giving back in large ways to the people of the Dominican Republic, especially the people of the Bonao region.
Current Initiatives (Courtesy of CFCF):
Education: Academic initiatives focusing on pre-school-12th grade, with added resources being dedicated to initiatives focusing on life skills, family, “giving back,” and technical-vocational training
Health Care: Dentistry, Gynecology, pediatrics, and general medicine.
- According to the CFCF, “Since 2005, over 4,300 patients have been seen by doctors in the areas of dentistry, pediatrics, gynecology and general Medicine.”
- As far as efficacy goes, since the medical screening started “as many as seven women in the region are alive today due to Cigar Family’s cervical cancer screening.”
Sports: They help facilitate and run basketball, volleyball, and baseball programs.
Agriculture: The foundation has helped to supply fish, honey, fruit, vegetables, and reforestation as well as a community kitchen to the community.
Construction: They have developed and are currently working on housing, infrastructure, water and sanitation needs for the community.
Sustainability: They are working on developing and investing in renewable energy sources.
Community Relations: The final front the CFCF is currently working on is strengthening community relationships.
All initiatives to date have been by all considerations successful and the foundation itself continues to grow with the charitable donations of generous cigar smokers. While both the Newman and Fuente families commit a large amount of resources to the project, donations from cigar smokers are a key factor in making the program successful.
Every year the CFCF puts out a two pack coffin of a limited offering of their cigars. This year, for example features a Julius Caeser and Fuente Opus X in a rare figurado size. The coffin retails for fifty dollars and all proceeds from the sale go to support the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation. If you want to put a dollar amount to its outcome, essentially every coffin purchased can provide school supplies and books for a child for a year. That’s not a bad deal, considering you get two great cigars and help a child have the means to be educated for a year!
Conclusion: Mustachioed villains have just lost one of their most powerful affectation symbols of corporate villainy! Cigars help provide, fund, and take care of thousands of individuals in multiple countries all over our world. Whether it is the charitable foundation of the Cigar Family or the corporate responsibility program of General Cigar, many cigar companies are very active in helping to provide better lives for their employees and the communities around them. In an age where it’s easy to vilify smoking its nice to take a moment and share some of the positive things that cigar smoking can do. In fact if you want to become more involved in helping to promote these positive activities, then I suggest you follow the links below to see how you too can make a difference in the lives of those who are less fortunate than ourselves.