OBJECTIVES To determine the number of smokers, their demographic characteristics, and the stages of change among patients visiting health care centers. PATIENTS AND METHODS Descriptive cross-sectional study carried out at 7 primary health care centers in Health District 5 of the Autonomous Community of Valencia. RESULTS An interview was given to 3633 people with a mean (SD) age of 55 (19) years, (range: 14-96 years). Women made up 61.7%, and 65% were seeking medical attention. Twenty-three per cent were current smokers (mean age 41.8 [15.2] years), 17.2% ex-smokers (60.6 [16.2] years), and 59.8% never smokers (58.4 [18.8] years). The stages of change were pre-contemplation for 32.1%, contemplation for 4.9%, chronic contemplation for 12.2%, preparation to quit for 6.8%, action for 2.3%, maintenance for 15.1%, and termination for 26.7%. According to current recommendations, it seems that between 23.6% and 44.7%, depending on category definitions, needed specific attention concerning tobacco dependence. CONCLUSIONS Twenty-three per cent of the patients attended by the primary care physician were smokers. More than half did not want to quit smoking and 1 in 10 were prepared to do so. Between 23.6% and 44.7% of the people who came to the primary care center needed specific attention concerning tobacco dependence.