We hypothesized that tobacco usage is an independent prognostic factor in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). To evaluate the impact of tobacco usage in this population, we identified patients diagnosed with MDS in our Center's MDS database and reviewed individual charts retrospectively. Of the 767 MDS patients identified, 743 patients (97%) had a known tobacco usage history. Given that the majority of tobacco users were smokers, we stratified patients as having never smoked (never-smoker group) versus current or former smokers (ever-smoker group). Greater than 60% of ever-smokers were risk stratified as having low or intermediate-1 (int-1) risk at diagnosis based on the International Prognostic Scoring System for MDS. In patients with lower-risk MDS, we found that ever-smokers had an increased proportion of poor-risk karyotypes (8.8%) compared with never-smokers (2.4%) (P=0.003). The adverse effect of smoking was greatest in the low-risk and int-1-risk groups, where median overall survival was 69 months (95% CI 42-96) in never-smokers versus 48 months (95% CI 41-55) in ever-smokers (P=0.006). The median overall survival for never-smokers, former smokers, and current smokers was 69 months (95% CI 42-96), 50 months (95% CI 43-57), and 38 months (95% CI 23-53), respectively, in patients risk stratified as lower-risk MDS (P=0.01). Our findings suggest that tobacco usage negatively impacts overall survival in patients with lower-risk MDS.