Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

EU Commission Anti-smoking ads should quit using performing animals

Posted: 13 August 2009. Updated: 20 August 2009

EU Commission Anti-smoking ads should quit using performing animals

A new European Commission online advertisement encouraging young people to stop smoking has been criticised by Animal Defenders International (ADI) and the Ape Alliance as it features a live monkey.

ADI’s long established campaign against the use of animals in entertainment calls for a halt to the use of performing animals in advertising and urges the EU Commission to cancel adverts which send such a negative message to Europe’s young people.

The advert shows a young woman on a park bench with a monkey kept on a lead as if it were a pet. In fact, it is a trained macaque monkey that is likely to have been separated from its mother and kept in captivity from a very early age. Such deprivation of its own species’ culture is known to lead to abnormal behaviour and stress later in life. The advert is part of an EU Commission funded campaign to drive young people to its advice website, which outlines the dangers of smoking.

Emile Clemens, spokesperson for Ligaris, the advertising agency that produced the commercial, said: “The theme is ‘tips’ to help and support each other to fight this nasty habit […] The purpose was to find an original approach to get the attention of young people including ‘absurd tips’ and convince them to go to the website for real help.”

ADI has sent a complaint letter to Commissioner Markos Kyprianou saying: “One of the core aims of the EU Health and Consumers Protection Directorate is to protect the health of animals and promote the humane treatment of animals, therefore the sponsorship and commission of this commercial contradicts DG SANCO’s mission by promoting the use of animals for entertainment and validates keeping primates as pets. We would therefore urge you to consider withdrawing this advert and adopting a policy of not using animals in future campaigns.”

ADI Chief Executive, Jan Creamer said: “This is irresponsible advertising and implies that it is acceptable to keep a primate as a pet and that they are suitable for human companionship. Primates are highly intelligent, social animals which neither belong as pets nor should be exploited by advertisers. Monkeys suffer greatly in captivity where they are starved of interaction with other primates and the space to roam. We urge the EU to stop showing this advert in all European nations and to pledge never to use performing animals in any future advertisements.”

Ligaris, enclosed a veterinary certificate for the monkey, which describes the monkey used as a capuchin (cebus apella) but it was actually a macaque (macaca) which is a completely different species. Such inconsistency raises serious concerns on the validity and accuracy of the certificate. ADI contacted Ligaris on this matter but has not received an answer.

Following an outcry from ADI, Ape Alliance and other animal welfare organisations, Spanish MEP Raul Romeva tabled a written Parliamentary question that states: “The use of wild animals as ‘actors’ in television and film productions is inherently cruel […] If the vet is unable to tell the difference, how can he/she judge whether or not the monkey is showing signs of distress or ill health?” and asks the European Commission: “What is the Commission’s opinion on the exploitation of wild animals for human entertainment? Which directorate authorised the production of this advert using a macaque? Would the Commission sign an international pledge not to use wild animals in its information material in the future?”

To register a complaint please write to:

Androulla Vassiliou
Directorate General for Health and Consumers
European Commission

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For further information, contact
ADI Press Office, Millbank Tower, Millbank, London SW1P 4QP:
Amanda Gent
Tel: 020 7630 3340
Mob: 07785 552548


Animal Defenders International (ADI)
With offices in London, San Francisco and Bogota, Animal Defenders International (ADI) campaigns to protect animals in entertainment, replacement of animals in experiments; worldwide traffic in endangered species; vegetarianism; factory farming; pollution and conservation. ADI also rescues animals in distress worldwide. Our evidence has led to campaigns and legislative action all over the world to protect them.

The Ape Alliance is an international coalition of organisations and individuals working for the conservation and welfare of apes. ADI is part of the Ape Alliance group.

The advert can be seen in:

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