the aim of this study was to determine smoking prevalence and associated factors among older adults (> 60 years). the study was conducted in greater metropolitan belo horizonte and bambuí town, both located in minas gerais, brazil. in the former, 1,774 subjects were selected, and in the latter, 1742. in belo horizonte, prevalence of current and past smoking was 19.6% and 39.2% among men and 8.1% and 14.1% among women, respectively. in bambuí, the corresponding figures were 31.4% and 40.2% among men and 10.3% and 11.2% among women, respectively. in belo horizonte, poor health and poor physical functioning were associated significantly with past smoking, but these associations were not observed in bambuí. among current smokers, these associations were not consistent. our results agree with the data observed in developed countries, showing great heterogeneity of factors associated with smoking. strategies to reduce smoking by the elderly should take into consideration the absence of association between signs/symptoms and smoking.