ABSTRACT Background: The smoking epidemic is a matter of worldwide concern. It is notable that, the younger the age at which smoking is initiated, the greater is the chance of becoming a heavy smoker, and suffering from cigarette- related diseases. This study was conducted to assess the prevalence and determinants of smoking among university students in Basrah. Subjects and methods: For the period from the 1st of November 2008 to 30th of April 2009, 1650 students (mean age 21.6± 3.1 years) from four colleges in Basrah University participated in the study. The students filled in an anonymous questionnaire detailing their sociodemographic characteristics and smoking behavior. Results: Of the total participants; 51.2% were females. The prevalence of current smoking was 23.2%; (42.1% among males versus 5.1% among females). The smoking behavior of friends was the most powerful factor of smoking initiation. Smoking was associated with male gender, urban residence, family history of smoking, low educational level of father, and high economic level. Conclusion: Cigarette smoking is prevalent among university students in Basrah. There is a need to implement public health interventions, with special attention to the determinants of smoking in this age group.