Scientific discoveries about the dangers of smoking and antismoking actions carried out in Western countries over recent decades have progressively helped create an antismoking social norm. Nevertheless, many smokers still refuse to quit. We conducted two studies to investigate smokers' resistance to this norm as a function of their personal self-esteem (PSE) and group-based self-esteem (GBSE). An initial correlational study assessed smokers' perception of the antismoking social norm, their PSE, and their antismoking attitudes. Smokers with low PSE had lower antismoking attitudes than those with high PSE when the antismoking norm was strong. The second study assessed GBSE (i.e., smokers' satisfaction as smokers) and manipulated both the strength of the antismoking norm and PSE (i.e., focus on personal weaknesses or strengths). Smokers with low PSE displayed the lowest antismoking attitudes when the antismoking norm was strong and their GBSE was high. These results show that the antismoking norm can produce paradoxical effects and suggest that the way individuals cope with stigmatization is affected by the interplay between PSE and GBSE. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd..