To further define the relation between smoking and vitamin C status, the dietary and serum vitamin C levels of 11,592 respondents in the second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES II) were analyzed. Smokers of 20 cigarettes daily had the lowest vitamin C dietary intake (79 mg, 95% CI:73, 84) and serum levels (0.82 mg/dl, 95% CI: 0.77, 0.86; 46.6 mumol/L, 95% CI: 43.7, 48.8), while smokers of 1-19 cigarettes daily had decreased vitamin C intake (97 mg; 95% CI: 90, 104 mg) and serum levels (0.97 mg/dl, 95% CI: 0.92, 1.03; 55.1 mumol/L, 95% CI: 52.2, 58.5) compared to respondents who had never smoked (109 mg, 95% CI: 105, 113 and 1.15 mg/dl, 95% CI: 1.11, 1.18; 65.3 mumol/L, 95% CI: 63.0, 67.0, respectively). This inverse association between both intake and serum levels of vitamin C and smoking was independent of age, sex, body weight, race, and alcoholic beverage consumption. Following further adjustment for dietary vitamin C intake, the negative correlation between cigarette smoking and serum vitamin C levels persisted. The risk of severe hypovitaminosis C (serum levels less than or equal to 0.2 mg/dl; 11.4 mumol/L) was increased in smokers, particularly when not accompanied by vitamin supplementation (odds ratio 3.0, 95% CI: 2.5, 3.6). These data suggest that even though smoking adversely affects preferences for vitamin C rich foods, the inverse association between smoking and serum vitamin C levels occurs independently of dietary intake.