Background. Smoking cessation is a complex process influenced by factors such as smokers' nicotine dependence levels, socioeconomic status (SES) and other lifestyle behaviours. Little is known about these relationships in South Africa (SA). Objectives. To explore the relationship between nicotine dependence, SES, lifestyle behaviours and lifetime quit attempts among adult smokers in SA. Methods. This study used data from 2 651 participants aged =16 years in the 2011 South African Social Attitudes Survey. Information on SES (measured by asset ownership), binge drinking, physical activity, fruit and vegetable intake, intention to quit smoking and lifetime quit attempts was extracted. Nicotine dependence was measured using the Heaviness of Smoking Index (HSI). All data were weighted to account for the complex survey design and to yield nationally representative estimates. Data analysis included binary logistic regression with high nicotine dependence (HND) defined as HSI =4 and lifetime quit attempts as separate outcomes. Results. The prevalence of smoking was 20.1% (31.6% for males and 9.5% for females), and was highest in the mixed-ancestry group (37.0%). Overall, 14.5% of smokers had HND, with a higher proportion in the high-SES group. The odds of HND increased with every 10 years of smoking history (odds ratio (OR) 2.05; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.40 - 3.00) but decreased among participants who reported frequent physical activity (OR 0.4; 95% CI 0.18 - 0.86) and those who planned to quit (OR 0.37; 95% CI 0.19 - 0.75). Quit attempts were more likely among participants who reported frequent fruit and vegetable intake (OR 1.8; 95% CI 1.07 - 2.98) and less likely among those reporting binge drinking (OR 0.31; 95% CI 0.16 - 0.59) or assessed as having HND (OR 0.32; 95% CI 0.17 - 0.58). Conclusions. Most adult smokers in SA have low nicotine dependence. However, the association of HND with high SES in this study suggests that although cessation treatment based on an integrated lifestyle behavioural intervention package may suffice for most smokers, a more intense cessation treatment package is needed for smokers of higher SES.