This investigation was designed to identify the risk factors associated with different stages of cigarette use in a large biracial adolescent sample. A questionnaire assessing smoking habits and variables thought to be related to smoking was administered to 6,967 7th graders. Analysis revealed that the best predictor of experimentation with cigarettes was the perception that they were easily available. Regular smoking appeared to be heavily influenced by cost. Social influences contributed to both experimental and regular smoking, but the impact of social models varied with ethnicity and gender. Analysis further revealed that weight-related variables were closely tied to regular smoking. Implications of the findings for smoking prevention programs are discussed.