This study, performed in two phases, compared the smoking status of first- and last-year pharmacy students and identified underlying factors of smoking using both "quantitative" and "qualitative" research techniques. The quantitative phase was a cross-sectional study with 207 students (of these, 102 were first-year and 105 were last-year students). The mean age at which first-year students tried tobacco/tobacco products was 14.1 +/- 3.2 and for last-year students, 16.0 +/- 2.4. The students completed an 18-item questionnaire at the end of the spring semester in May 2004. Chi-square and t-test analyses were used for statistical comparisons. Furthermore, focus group discussion techniques were used to find out the underlying factors of smoking in the second phase.