During one school year a health habits survey investigated cigarette smoking behavior in a total biracial population of children, ages 8 to 17 years old. Information was collected concerning each child's first smoking experience. Over 60 per cent of the children reported they were given their first cigarettes. Half of those starting before age 12 smoked their first cigarettes with a family member or an older fried. The smoking habit appears to have become established by age 14, with a two-year gap between initiation and maintenance.