Greece has the highest smoking prevalence in the European Union, with adolescents having high levels of exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS). In July 2009, national smokefree legislation was implemented in Greece. This study explored Greek young people's attitudes to smoking, SHS and the impending legislation. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were undertaken with 11 groups of 14- to 16-year-old smokers and non-smokers in May and June 2009. Participants described social worlds in which smoking and exposure to SHS were viewed as normal and acceptable. There was little awareness of the health risks of SHS. Smoking was perceived to be both an inherent part of socializing and highly addictive. The 'right' to smoke in public places was thus viewed as greater than that of not being exposed to SHS. There was limited awareness of the impending smokefree legislation. Participants drew on their experience of previous legislation, the perceived rebellious Greek character, and their cynicism about the government in concluding that the legislation would be ineffective. The perceived social norms around smoking and SHS combined with a poor understanding of the health risks and negative attitudes about the impending legislation help to explain the subsequent limited impact of the Greek smokefree legislation.