Purpose. Studies have shown that African-American adolescents are less likely to smoke cigarettes than white youth. National data suggest that this pattern changes in late adolescence and early adulthood. Specifically, African-American adults have a relatively high smoking prevalence rate when compared with other racial/ethnic groups. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively examine the sociocultural factors associated with smoking attitudes and practices among low-income African-American young adults. Design. Cross-sectional qualitative study. Settings. High schools, 2-year colleges, housing developments, and trade schools in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Memphis, Tennessee. Subjects. One hundred eighteen low-income African Americans between 18 and 35 years of age (65 men and 53 women). Measure/Procedure. Fourteen focus groups were conducted with the target population. Nonmonetary incentives were provided for each participant in the 1-hour sessions. The majority of focus group moderators were African-American females trained in focus group moderation. Participants were recruited through flyers and project liaisons at each field location. Results. Themes elicited from the focus groups were classified according to the PEN-3 model, and they included: lighting cigarettes for parents as a first experience with cigarettes, perceived stress relief benefits of smoking, use of cigarettes to extend the sensation of marijuana, and protective factors against smoking such as respect for parental rules. Conclusion. The results indicate that there are specific contextual and familial factors that can contribute to smoking initiation, maintenance, and cessation among low-income African-American young adults. Limitations of this study include the exploratory nature of focus groups and the relatively small sample size. Further studies are necessary to quantitatively examine the role of these factors on smoking patterns in this population.