Monoamine oxidase (MAO) is a critical metabolic enzyme of dopamine, which is a key neurotransmitter of the mesolimbic reward pathway in the human brain. Consequently, the gene encoding MAO is an important candidate gene in the genetics of smoking behaviour. We investigated the association between MAOA polymorphisms (a VNTR polymorphism and an EcoRV polymorphism) and smoking status. A community-based cross-sectional study was conducted with 203 current smoking subjects and 168 non-current smoking subjects in Beijing, China. Genotyping for these polymorphisms was performed using PCR and restriction fragment length polymorphism. Multiple logistic regression models were used to analyse the association of MAOA gene polymorphisms with smoking status. We found that individuals with the 1460T/O genotype had a significantly increased the risk of smoking compared to those with 1460C/O. The adjusted odds ratios (aORs) were 3.2 (95% CI 2.0–5.2) in current vs. non-current smokers group, 1.7 (95% CI 1.1–2.8) in ever vs. never smokers group, 2.5 (95% CI 1.4–4.3) in current vs. never smokers group, and 5.3 (95% CI 2.5–11.2) in current vs. former smokers group respectively. We also found that individuals with the 3-repeat genotype of the VNTR polymorphism had a significantly increased risk of smoking significantly compared to those with the 4-repeat genotype. The aORs were 2.0 (95% CI 1.0–4.1) in the current vs. former smokers group, and 1.9 (95% CI 1.0–3.6) in the nicotine dependent vs. non-nicotine dependent group respectively. Moreover, MAOA gene haplotypes were associated significantly with nicotine dependence in every group. In conclusion, there is an important association between MAOA polymorphisms and smoking status, suggesting a possible role of MAOA gene variants in nicotine dependence.