Cigarette smoking among adolescents remains one of the most important public health challenges. Despite much attention to research on the etiology of smoking, notably the examination of factors that differentiate adolescent smokers from never smokers, much less is known about factors that predict the development of dependence once an adolescent tries smoking. This paper reviews individual and contextual influences on the progression of smoking among adolescents. Highlights include a consideration of multiple levels of influence, from intra-individual factors, such as genetics, demographics, temperament and comorbidities, to social influences, such as families and peers, to the more macro, societal/cultural levels of influence, including advertising and tobacco-related policies. More recent work examining microcontextual influences through the use of Ecological Momentary Assessments is also discussed. Finally, the need to consider both developmental and transdisciplinary approaches to understanding the development of nicotine dependence in adolescents is emphasized.