Utah governor halts condom campaign over 'sexual innuendo' of slogans

One of the condom wrappers had a picture of a mountain and the slogan, "Enjoy Your Mountin'."

The state of Utah is trying something new to fight HIV infections: handing out condoms with cheeky plays on state pride.Utah Department of Health, via AP; NBC News

Utah health officials were getting busy with an HIV-prevention effort when Gov. Gary Herbert halted the distribution of 100,000 condoms due to racy messaging.

The Utah Department of Health earlier this month started distributing the condoms with suggestive slogans and teenage humor to promote safe sex.

One condom cover, for example, spelled out "SL UT" by using two-letter abbreviations for the state of Utah and its capital, Salt Lake City. Another had a picture of a mountain and the slogan "Enjoy Your Mountin'." Still another showed an image of a bed with the slogan, "This is the place."

Herbert's office said in a statement, "The governor understands the importance of the Utah Department of Health conducting a campaign to educate Utahns about HIV prevention.”

“He does not, however, approve the use of sexual innuendo as part of a taxpayer-funded campaign, and our office has asked the department to rework the campaign’s branding,” the statement said.

Utah Department of Health spokeswoman Jenny Johnson said in a statement to NBC News, "At the direction of the governor's office, we have asked partners to stop distribution immediately."

The Department of Health issued an apology on Wednesday.

"The Utah Department of Health apologizes for the offensive packaging included on condoms distributed as part of an HIV campaign," the department said in a media release. "The designs did not go through necessary approval channels and we have asked our partners to stop distributing them immediately. We regret the lewd nature of the branding."

"We remain committed to running a campaign to help in the prevention of HIV and intend to do so in a manner that better respects taxpayer dollars, and our role as a government agency," the Health Department said.

The condoms were to be distributed through a variety of local health centers, AIDS prevention groups and community activists. It wasn't immediately clear on Thursday how many of the condoms with racy messages had been distributed already.