BACKGROUND: Smoking tobacco products is one of the largest preventable health risk factors for older people. Greek-Australians have the highest prevalence of cigarette use in Australia for older people, but there is a lack of knowledge about Greek-Australian's perspectives on smoking cessation. The purpose of this exploratory, qualitative study was to progress the knowledge base in this area. METHODS: A qualitative study was designed to gather information on participants' perspectives about, and understanding of, their reasons for smoking and their attitudes to quitting. A snowball sampling technique was used to identify twenty Greek-Australian current smokers, aged ≥50 years. Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were conducted with the assistance of a Greek translator. The audio-taped interviews were transcribed and then qualitative content analysis was used to categorise responses to the questions. RESULTS: Participants' perspectives on three broad topics were identified in the interviews: perceived benefits of smoking, perceptions of smoking and its effect on health, and barriers to cessation. Smoking behaviour was described as contributing to tiredness, and stress, and yet also was also a source of enjoyment. Level of knowledge about smoking-related diseases and the risks of smoking was very low. The number of cigarettes smoked each day, type of smoking (i.e. pipe rather than cigarettes), and previous family history of smoking were identified as indicators that limited harm flows from smoking. Most participants had a positive attitude towards smoking and described their own life experience and cultural norms as supporting smoking acceptability. Low confidence in quitting was linked to advanced age. CONCLUSION: Smoking among older Greek-Australian smokers has been associated with a number of influences and these need to be addressed in smoking cessation efforts targeted at this group. Promoting knowledge about the health impacts of smoking, changing attitudes towards smoking, and ultimately, decreasing tobacco consumption are critical to the maintenance of health among older Greek Australians. Cultural and experiential influences may increase the difficulty associated with changing these outcomes, but may also serve as a framework from which to develop and implement an educational intervention tailored for older Greek-Australians.