Adolescents from different ethnic groups show different cigarette smoking prevalence rates, suggesting potential differences in receptivity to and influences from protobacco media. Understanding these differences will be helpful in tailoring smoking prevention and cessation programs for diverse adolescent populations in the United States. Data from cross-sectional surveys of 20,332 randomly sampled California boys and girls, 12-17 years of age, were analyzed. Results indicate that receptivity to protobacco media was lower among African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanics than among White youth. There was a consistent dose-response relationship between receptivity to protobacco media and 30-day cigarette smoking across ethnic groups. Having a cigarette brand preference was associated with the highest risk for cigarette smoking, having a favorite tobacco ad showed the lowest risk, while having received or being willing to use tobacco promotional items was associated with a moderate risk. After controlling for 13 covariates, the odds ratio for receptivity to protobacco media and 30-day cigarette smoking was significant for Whites (RR = 1.38, p < 0.01) and Hispanics (RR = 1.46, p < 0.01), but not for African American (RR = 1.05, p > 0.05) and Asian American (RR = 1.17, p > 0.05) youth. African American, Asian American, and Hispanic adolescents have a lower level of receptivity to protobacco media than do Whites. The association between media receptivity and 30-day cigarette smoking exists for all four ethnic groups without controlling for other smoking predictor variables, but only for Hispanics and Whites when other variables are controlled. Protecting adolescents from protobacco advertising influences is an important element in tobacco control among ethnic minority youth.