We conducted a systematic international review of tobacco smoking habits among medical students. Particular attention was paid to countries where smoking rates have been historically well-documented in local journals, but were less often included in larger international review articles. The methodology involved a search of relevant medical subject headings, after which the reference lists of journal papers were also examined to find additional publications. A total of 66 manuscripts met the inclusion criteria. The most common countries previously studied included India, the United States, Australia, Japan, Pakistan, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Overall, our review suggests that the prevalence of smoking among medical students varies widely amongst different countries and also between male and female students within the same areas. Consistently low smoking rates were found in Australia and the United States, while generally high rates were reported in Spain and Turkey. Given their important future role as exemplars, more effective measures to help reduce tobacco smoking among medical students are clearly needed worldwide.