'Stoner sloth': Australia anti-marijuana campaign criticised

Image from the Stoner Sloth campaign shows the sloth character taking a selfie with friends Image copyright NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet
Image caption The Stoner Sloth campaign aims to convince teens that smoking marijuana will make them socially dysfunctional

An Australian anti-marijuana campaign that features an intoxicated sloth has drawn expert criticism and online mockery.

The Stoner Sloth campaign, financed by the New South Wales state government, aims to stop teens smoking marijuana.

The sloth character is shown as unable to cope with various social scenarios after smoking the drug.

Australia's National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC) criticised the campaign.

"[This] doesn't reflect NCPIC views on how cannabis harms campaigns should be approached", the organisation said in a statement..

Image copyright

The NCPIC, whose logo was used to endorse the campaign, said it was consulted early in the project but had no input into the concept.

The top trending Twitter hashtag in Australia on Saturday was #stonersloth, and it was still trending on Monday.

The campaign has inspired a host of online parodies and Stoner Sloth T-shirts are being offered for sale.

NSW Premier Mike Baird, whose own department helped fund the campaign, sent a series of bemused tweets.

"Just saw the #StonerSloth ads. Not sure where NSW Gov's ad guys found Chewbaccas (sic) siblings, but those videos are... Quite something," one read.

Image copyright @mikebairdMP

Some online comments suggested that sloths were adorable and more likely to make teens want to smoke marijuana, while others suggested that the ads would fail to make an impact with the target audience.

"Really dislike the drug but was a single young person consulted in the making of these stupid ads? Nobody will take #stonersloth seriously," educational equity researcher at Macquarie University Max Walden tweeted.

The campaign was launched in mid-November but only gained traction in social media over the weekend.