Scientists studied 740 Taiwanese men with an average age of 65 and found that cigarettes can hasten hair loss.
They took into account the age at which they started to lose hair, family history, other risk factors which may affect hair loss and their smoking history.
Asian men are less likely than caucasians to suffer male pattern baldness – which is partly caused by sex hormones, the Sun reports.
The men's height and weight were measured, and blood samples analysed.
Analysis of the results showed that the risk of hair loss increased with advancing age, but remained lower than the average risk for Caucasian men.
It also revealed a clear link between smoking and hair loss, with the heaviest smokers being most likely to suffer from male pattern baldness, even when a family history of the condition was taken into account.
Those who smoked 20 cigarettes or more a day were more than twice as likely to have moderate or severe hair loss than those who had never smoked.
The results, published in the journal Archives of Dermatology, showed the risk remained elevated even among those who had quit the habit.
Putting forward reasons for the effect, the researchers said smoking may damage the genetic structure of the hair follicles, the tiny structures responsible for hair growth.
Alternatively, it may harm cells at their roots needed for the circulation of blood and hormones.
Male-pattern baldness, or genetic hair loss, affects an estimated 7.4million British men losing their hair at any one time.
It usually develops very gradually, typically starting with the appearance of a bald spot in the crown of the scalp and thinning of the temples.
Although it can strike at any time, many men first become aware of it as they approach their 30s.
The condition runs in the family, the strongest influence on the mother's side.
This means that if a man's mother's father is bald, they chances are he will also eventually lose his hair, Daily Mail reports.