Chris Parnell anti-vaping campaign offers resources for quitting


You probably know actor Chris Parnell from the animated series Rick and Morty, the television series 30 Rock, or his years-long run on Saturday Night Live.

Now he’s bringing his memorable voice and comedic timing to a new project: playing a talking vape who offers “toxic therapy” to young people.

The truth campaign, “Toxic Therapy from Your Vape,” aims to highlight the connection between vaping nicotine and poorer mental health. It also offers numerous digital resources for quitting, including a text message program and an immersive online space where users can explore tips for quitting and de-stressing. (Truth Initiative, a nonprofit public health organization, funds the national truth campaign.)

As part of the campaign, a recently launched truth TikTok show called “Everything Sucks Right Now” features influencers Vincent Marcus and Christian Vierling talking about audience-submitted “vents” while focusing on coping skills. The hosts discuss life challenges, including the harms of nicotine use and vaping.

On November 1st, the truth campaign will launch a Snapchat filter that allows users to engage with Parnell’s vape character, then click through to access online resources.

Parnell says the talking vape is probably one of the strangest characters he’s ever played.


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“I’ve been talking objects before, but the vape definitely is one of the top few in terms of weirdness,” he told Mashable. “But weird is where it’s at, it’s fun.”

While the PSAs are certainly quirky, they illustrate the negative relationship young people can have with vaping.

Truth Initiative surveys show that many youth turn to vaping to relieve stress and anxiety but ultimately report worse mental health symptoms after their curiosity turns into an addiction. Vaping can also lead to poor or disrupted sleep, which can interfere with well-being.

Parnell’s vape drives these points home by encouraging the young person at his side to indulge their most anxious thoughts or to stay up all night ruminating on things that make them feel bad.

Parnell told Mashable that the writing and voice acting “makes it clear this is a scheming sort of nasty guy who wants to make things worse for the person that they’re talking to.”

Research suggests there’s a connection between vaping and poor mental health, though more studies are needed to establish cause-and-effect.

Still, truth ambassador Karely Alcantara says she can relate. Alcantara, 21, says she began vaping as a teen in high school to cope with “overwhelming” stress. (Ambassadors for truth receive a stipend from Truth Initiative to create and promote projects that “inspire tobacco-free communities.”)

By 2021, Alcantara noticed she couldn’t run anymore without difficulty breathing. While at work, she’d crave vaping and become irritable and irritated.

“Vaping offered me, like, five minutes of relief, a feel-good moment, a kind of euphoria moment, but then it went away and my problems were still there, so what did it really help?” says Alcantara.

She began quitting by texting truth’s anonymous and free quit number. At first, Alcantara was skeptical that it could help. But the daily reminders from the service let her know it was OK to feel stressed or anxious by the process of quitting vaping.

Elizabeth Kenny, chief marketing and strategy officer for Truth Initiative, says the campaign focused on the connection between vaping and mental health to help youth understand that the harms of nicotine use can show up immediately, rather than taking years or decades to develop.

She added that Parnell was an ideal actor to voice the vape, particularly given his tenure on 30 Rock playing a doctor who authoritatively gave absurdist or nonsense medical advice.

Parnell says he was honored to play the part: “If it steers them away from doing it, to reduce the frequency of it, it’s all good. And I’m happy to be that weird little vape voice.”


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