Summary. The paper presents a latent factor model for initiation of smoking, cessation and mortality using the British Health and Lifestyle Survey. This allows us to investigate inequality of opportunity in risk of mortality, focusing on the intergenerational transmission of smoking. We find that the hazard of mortality is higher for current and former smokers relative to never smokers. Furthermore we find that parental smoking plays an important role in the dynamics of smoking and indirectly affects mortality. Predictions derived from the model show that inequality in mortality decreases if individuals adopt the best level of effort (not smoking) or if circumstances are favourable (if parents are non-smokers).