Data of the National Health Survey 1998 are used to analyze the impact of alternative indicators of social inequality on smoking of the 18- to 79-year-old population in Germany. The members of socially disadvantaged groups not only smoke more frequently, they show also lower rates in smoking cessation. This is most obvious in middle age while only small differences can be observed at older ages. Multivariate analyses evidence primarily education as a determinant of smoking among men and women. The effects of income and occupational status are fairly small. The results point out that health inequalities can partly be explained by different smoking habits and, therefore, underline the necessity of a differentiated and group-specific tobacco prevention and tobacco control policy.