Few studies have compared the prevalence of smoking between patients with bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder (MDD) and schizophrenia. This study examined the prevalence of smoking and its relationships with demographic and clinical characteristics, and quality of life (QOL) in patients with these psychiatric disorders. A total of 1,102 inpatients were consecutively screened. Psychopathology and QOL were measured with standardized instruments. The prevalence of current smoking in the whole sample was 16.7%; 17.5% in bipolar disorder, 10.6% in MDD and 18.5% in schizophrenia. The rates of smoking in bipolar disorder (p = 0.004, OR = 2.5, 95%CI: 1.3-4.7) and schizophrenia (p = 0.03, OR = 2.0, 95%CI: 1.06-3.8) were significantly higher than in MDD, while no difference was found between bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Smokers had a higher mental QOL than non-smokers (p = 0.007) in MDD, but no difference was found in the other two groups. Male gender, living alone, higher personal income, older age of onset, health insurance coverage, and first episode was significantly associated with smoking in one or more diagnostic groups. Smoking appears more common in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia than in MDD in China. The figures in all disorders were lower than that reported in most of other countries.