This study investigated symptoms of distress and nicotine dependence as predictors of nicotine withdrawal symptoms among 188 incarcerated male smokers during a mandated smoking ban. Participants completed a smoking history questionnaire and measures of nicotine dependence, withdrawal, cravings, and distress before the ban and two follow-up times. The majority of smokers (76%) continued to smoke following the smoking ban. Smokers after the ban were more nicotine dependent than were the participants who reported quitting. Smokers also reported more withdrawal symptoms than did participants who quit, even when accounting for nicotine dependence and baseline withdrawal scores. An interaction was found such that distressed smokers had the highest level of nicotine withdrawal. These results have implications for how smoking bans are instituted in prison settings. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.