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Local cigar company offers taste of home to troops

Local cigar company offers 'taste of home' to troops

OZARK - One family's hobby has become their service to others, including one man whose son was killed while serving in Iraq and another whose memory of his father consisted of the family's merchandise.

Now the family, owners John and Marty Varney of Cigars & Such in Ozark, want to help in a bigger way.

The duo has joined cigar stores nationwide to assist in shipping more than 50,000 Montecristo White, Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real, and H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon cigars to U.S. military troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The program, called "Operation Cigars for Troops," is expected to cap off within the next month through cigar company Altadis U.S.A.

Residents participated by buying packs of the cigars. For every pack purchased, one cigar is expected to be sent to the troops.

Altadis advertising vice president Janelle Rosenfeld said the Operation Cigars for Troops idea came from a sales representative.

The company is expected to send the cigars through an authorized military shipper next month which has been permitted to send cigars before, she said.

John Varney, a gas truck driver who said he opened the store as a hobby, said the store has contributed about 20 cigars since their recent participation.

He said he and his wife decided on the program because of the opportunity to serve.

Customers have included the man whose son was killed in Iraq and the man whose fondest memories of his father were when the two had cigars together, Varney said.

"Of course cigars have health hazards but what we've seen is they're not used in habit, they're used for relaxation, for bonding ... You don't get a buzz. We give a lot of cigars away because if you enjoy doing something so much, it's not about the money," he said.

"As a store we get a lot of support from the military, too. ... You can't replace what these sons and daughters are doing over there. Our sacrifices aren't anything compared to what they're doing."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Source: Dothan Eagle

Local cigar company offers taste of home to troops