A nationwide Australian household survey of 5580 men and women, 16 years and over, was conducted in 1983 to determine smoking behaviour and related beliefs and intentions. Among males, 37 per cent were regular cigarette smokers (a significant drop from 40 per cent reported in 1980), and among females, 30 per cent were smokers (compared with 31 per cent in 1980). In the age group 16–24 more females than males smoke cigarettes and there was evidence of a net increase in smoking among females at about the age of 50. Male smokers had stronger intentions to give up than female smokers. The main advantages of giving up listed by ex-smokers were health-related and the main disadvantages were weight gain and irritability. Current smokers also listed advantages in giving up but they were more likely to list weight gain and irritability as disadvantages. Only 8 per cent of smokers listed their own doctor among the people who would be in favour of them giving up. More non-smokers than smokers listed diseases caused by smoking and 25 per cent of smokers (versus 9 per cent of never smokers) believed no illnesses at all are caused by smoking. Among smokers, a highly significant positive relationship was found between the belief that one's own smoking could cause a fatal illness and the intention to give up.