Cultural-historical changes in smoking prevalence and in smoking-related attitudes and beliefs were examined as part of a cohort-sequential study of 6th- to 12th-grade midwestern adolescents (N = 8681) between 1980 and 1983. Smoking prevalence decreased over the 4 years for the younger cohorts and remained unchanged for high school students. Paradoxically, however, some specific beliefs and attitudes about smoking (including health beliefs) became less negative with time. It is suggested that continuing negative social beliefs about smoking are supporting declines in smoking prevalence among younger cohorts. Implications of these cultural-historical changes for smoking behavior and smoking control are discussed.