Abstract Background Many adult cigarette smokers initiated the habit as adolescents. Adolescent tobacco use may be a marker of other unhealthy behaviours. There are limited data on the prevalence and correlates of cigarette smoking among in-school adolescents in Iraq. We aimed to estimate the prevalence of, and assess the socio-demographic correlates of current cigarette smoking among in-school adolescents in Kurdistan region of Iraq. Methods Secondary data analysis of the Global Youth Tobacco Survey, conducted in the region of Kurdistan, Iraq in 2006. Logistic regression analysis was conducted to assess the association between current cigarette smoking and explanatory variables. Results One thousand nine hundred eighty-nine adolescents participated in the Kurdistan-Iraq Global Youth Tobacco Survey. Of these, 58.1% and 41.9% were boys and girls respectively. The overall prevalence of current cigarette smoking was 15.3%; 25.1% and 2.7% in boys and girls respectively. The factors associated with adolescent smoking were: parents' smoking, smoking in closest friends, male gender, having pocket money and perceptions that boys or girls who smoked were attractive. Conclusion We suggest that public health interventions aimed to curb adolescent cigarette smoking should be designed, implemented and evaluated with due recognition to the factors that are associated with the habit.