This study analyzes data for white high school seniors from the 1985 Monitoring the Future national survey. Students who had less educated parents or lower educational aspirations were more likely to have tried a cigarette, more likely to have adopted cigarette smoking, and less likely to have quit smoking. These students also had more favorable attitudes toward smoking, and reported greater acceptance of smoking by their friends. In addition, the students with less educated parents or lower educational aspirations appeared to be more rejecting of adult authority and more predisposed to adopt adult behaviors, and these characteristics, in turn, were associated with smoking more. The results of multivariate analyses support the hypothesis that these students have experienced less success in school and are more likely to adopt behaviors characteristic of adults as an alternative source of status and gratification, and this contributes to their higher rates of smoking.