To accomplish significant reductions in smoking by the year 2000, special populations with relatively low rates of smoking cessation must be reached and helped to quit smoking. These populations are most often groups in which traditional approaches to smoking cessation have not been successful. Focus groups were conducted with black women who were residents of Chicago public housing developments. The purposes were to assess factors related to smoking and the women's willingness to participate in cessation programs. The findings reveal several barriers to smoking cessation. These barriers are linked to the difficult daily existence and environment of these women and to a lack of social support that would help them to achieve smoking cessation. The barriers include (a) managing their lives in highly stressful environments, (b) major isolation within these environments, (c) smoking as a pleasure attainable with very limited financial resources, (d) perceived minimal health risks of smoking, (e) commonality of smoking in their communities, (f) scarcity of information about the process of cessation available to them, and (g) belief that all they need is the determination to quit on their own. The women emphasized that smoking cessation would be more relevant to them if part of broader social support efforts geared to improve their lives. The public health system may need to consider such strategies to engage this group of women.