BACKGROUND: While smoking prevalence in Korean men has been decreasing, it is increasing in Korean women. Little is known about women's smoking inequalities in Korea. This study was conducted to investigate the association of socioeconomic indicators with the initiation and cessation of smoking among Korean women. METHODS: This was a cross-sectional study on 9,089 women aged 25-64 years from the 2008 Seoul Community Health Survey. The data on smoking and socioeconomic status were obtained through face-to-face interviews. Smoking initiation rate was defined as the proportion of the individuals who had started smoking at least one cigarette among all subjects. Smoking cessation rate was calculated by dividing the number of individuals who had quit smoking by the number of ever smokers. Education level, total family income and occupation were investigated as socioeconomic indicators. RESULTS: Education level was significantly associated with both initiation and cessation of smoking. Lower educated women had a higher likelihood of smoking initiation (odds ratio [OR], 1.72; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.17 to 2.51) but lower likelihood of smoking cessation (OR, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.22 to 0.66) than higher educated women. Smoking initiation rate was higher in manual workers (OR, 1.65; 95% CI, 1.20 to 2.27) than in non-manual workers. However, there were no significant differences of both initiation and cessation of smoking according to total household income. CONCLUSION: This study shows that there are smoking inequalities among Korean women. It is thought that education level and occupation are important determinants of women's smoking status.