OBJECTIVE: To examine people's perceptions of doctors' views on smoking, smokers' recall of doctors' advice about smoking, and the relationship between doctors' warnings about smoking and attempts to quit. DESIGN AND METHOD: Face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of Victorians in their own homes in September and October 1990. SAMPLE: 2357 Victorians aged 16 years and over. RESULTS: 1. 83 per cent of people perceive doctors in general to be against smoking, but only 55 per cent think their own doctor is. 2. 55 per cent of smokers reported their doctor had never advised them to quit smoking, and for 22 per cent this was despite recalling that the doctor had asked if they smoked. 3. Patients who had been advised to stop smoking were more likely to have attempted to quit (81%) than those to whom the doctor had said nothing (61%). 4. Patients who had been advised to cut down on their smoking, rather than to quit, were less likely to be planning a quit attempt (27%) than any others. CONCLUSION: Either doctors are failing to warn many of their patients about smoking or the advice is not being given in a manner that makes it memorable.