Cigarette smoking as an addictive habit has accompanied human beings for more than 4 centuries. It is also one of the most potent and prevalent environmental health risks human beings are exposed to, and it is responsible for more than 1000 deaths each day in the United States. With recent research progress, it becomes clear that cigarette smoking can cause almost all major diseases prevalent today, such as cancer or heart disease. These detrimental effects are not only present in active smokers who choose the risk, but also to innocent bystanders, as passive smokers, who are exposed to cigarettes not-by-choice. While the cigarette-induced harm to human health is indiscriminate and severe, the degree of damage also varies from individual to individual. This intersubject variability in cigarette-induced pathologies is partly mediated by genetic variants of genes that may participate in detoxification process, eg, cytochrome P450 (CYP), cellular susceptibility to toxins, such as p53, or disease development. Through population studies, we have learned that certain CYP1A1 variants, such as Mspl polymorphism, may render the carriers more susceptible to cigarette-induced lung cancer or severe coronary atherosclerosis. The endothelial nitric oxide synthase intron 4 rare allele homozygotes are more likely to have myocardial infarction if they also smoke. In vitro experimental approach has further demonstrated that cigarettes may specifically regulate these genes in genotype-dependent fashion. While we still know little about genetic basis and molecular pathways for cigarette-induced pathological changes, understanding these mechanisms will be of great value in designing strategies to further reduce smoking in targeted populations, and to implement more effective measures in prevention and treatment of cigarette-induced diseases.