OBJECTIVES: Understanding recent trends in cigarette smoking among adolescents is important in order to develop strategies to prevent cigarette smoking. The aim of this study was to compare recent trends in cigarette smoking for adolescents living in rural areas, small towns and metropolitan cities in Korea. METHODS: The raw data from the Korea Youth Risk Behavior Web-based Survey (KYRBWS) from 2005 to 2009 were used. Data were analyzed by using the method of complex survey data analysis considering complex sampling design. Logistic regression models were used to evaluate significant linear time trends in cigarette smoking. The indicators of cigarette use behaviors were 'current smoking rate', 'frequent smoking rate', 'heavy smoking rate' and 'smoking experience rate before 13 years of age'. All analyses were conducted according to gender. RESULTS: Statistically significant increasing trends in current smoking rate and frequent smoking rate were observed and borderline significant increasing trends in heavy smoking rate were shown among rural boys. Among metropolitan city boys, statistically significant increasing trends were also seen for frequent smoking. Statistically significant decreasing trends in current smoking rate were observed among small town and metropolitan city girls. Smoking experience rate before 13 years of age for rural girls decreased significantly. CONCLUSIONS: Cigarette smoking prevalence among adolescents in the rural areas has increased in the last five years especially among boys. Our findings suggest that anti-tobacco program for adolescents should be conducted primarily for those in rural areas.