OBJECTIVE: To explore the gender dimensions on influences of tobacco uptake on medical students using both qualitative and quantitative methods. METHODS: A phased mixed-method study design was used with in-depth interviews followed by a survey questionnaire in a 'smoke-free' medical college campus in a private university of Karachi. Eight in-depth interviews were conducted to under-pin themes that were further used for developing the questionnaire. Tabulation and analysis of the quantitative data was done using SPSS software version 12. All the ethical issues for the research were taken into consideration. RESULTS: One hundred and sixty-five (72 male, 93 female) students participated in the study. Mean age was 21.57 +/- 1.66 years. The survey results reported perceived reasons for male smoking as stress relief (74%), image (62%), companionship (54%), leisurely independence (46%) and male power and masculinity (44%). Among reasons for women for not smoking by the majority was that it was frowned upon (87%) while the reasons for smoking clustered around concepts of images (65%), western culture (66%), stress relief (51%) and advertising (36%). A large proportion (55%) of students felt bad and bothered by male and female smoking. CONCLUSION: Despite being medical students, the anti-tobacco future role models, traditional concepts of gender were frequently involved that explains smoking and non-smoking gendered behaviours.