This study examined pathways of influence between work stress, depressive symptoms, nicotine dependence, expressive suppression, and cognitive reappraisal in fishermen with smoking habits in Qionghai, Hainan province, China (N = 1068). These fishermen responded to multiple assessments a week before leaving on a deep-sea fishing trip, including a Mental Stressor Investigation Questionnaire (MSIQ), the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), the Russell Reason for Smoking Questionnaire (RRSQ), and an Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ). Structural equation modeling (SEM) analyses of the collected data in Mplus 7 showed that work stress and nicotine dependence were independent predictors of depressive symptoms. The relationship between work stress and depressive symptoms was found to be partially mediated by nicotine dependence and be moderated by cognitive reappraisal. The evidence suggests it advantageous to examine the need of work stress, nicotine dependence, and cognitive reappraisal when attempting to understand depressive symptoms in fishermen with a smoking habit. These findings suggest that improving nicotine dependence through work stress management and training in cognitive reappraisal could be utilized as effective modalities for improving depressive symptoms.