Cigarette smoking represents the single most preventable cause of premature morbidity and mortality in the United States and the burden of tobacco use is apparent world-wide. Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2004. The American Thoracic Society (ATS) and its members have contributed significantly to an understanding of the biological and pathophysiologic mechanisms responsible for the development and management of tobacco-attributable disease and disability. The society's active involvement in tobacco control advocacy and policy-related initiatives are central to its mission. Within the ATS, there is also increased interest in accelerating the society's efforts to understand the mechanisms responsible for the uptake, persistence, and cessation of tobacco use. Scientific, clinical, and educational activities that include an examination of these underlying mechanisms are warranted. This paper describes findings from an ATS initiative that developed a preliminary strategy for enhancing scientific, clinical, educational, and policy-related tobacco control efforts that are consistent with the vision of the ATS. The specific aims of this project included the identification of existing mechanisms, as well as the current governancein place within the ATS infrastructure, to address tobacco control issues related to scientific inquiry, policy initiatives, and advocacy for tobacco control. This assessment generated recommendations to inform the ATS leadership with regard to the future development of relevant tobacco control initiatives.