In order to study risk factors associated with snoring in a general adult population, 2,187 subjects in the Tucson Epidemiologic Study of Obstructive Airways Disease were surveyed to determine the prevalence of snoring. Major independent risk factors for snoring were male gender, age between 40 and 64 years, obesity, and current cigarette smoking. Furthermore, greater intensity of cigarette smoking also was associated with higher snoring prevalence rates. Snoring prevalence remained elevated in subjects who recently quit smoking, but declined in ex-smokers to the level of never smokers within four years of smoking cessation. The presence of cough or sputum production was associated with an increase in snoring prevalence especially in ex-smokers. Snoring prevalence was slightly increased in subjects who regularly used alcohol or medications as aids to sleep. We conclude that cigarette smoking, obesity, male gender, age over 40, and use of alcohol or sleep medications are important risk factors for snoring. We propose that the effect of smoking may be related to the production of upper airway inflammation and edema by cigarette smoke, and that smoking cessation may eventually reduce snoring risk.