This article examines pseudo-cohort trends in socio-economic inequalities in smoking behaviour. People born in 1926-1950 living in manual households were more likely to become smokers than those in non-manual households, but both groups subsequently gave up smoking at similar rates. Those in the 1956-1985 birth cohorts were less likely to smoke than people born earlier, but they were also less likely to give up. The rates of giving up among the non-manual group declined slightly compared with those born earlier. However there was a dramatic change for the manual group compared with earlier cohorts; the vast majority remained smokers, with rates stabilising around 45 per cent for men and 40 per cent for women.