I'd argue that "igniting" a smokestick is different from lighting a torch. Both the flint and steel (PH 126) and the tindertwig (PH 129) say that "lighting a torch with a [flint and steel or tindertwig] is a [full-round or standard] action, and lighting any other fire with one takes [that long, too]."
Neither mention "igniting." I know, I know. Bear with me. Look at the sunrod (PH 128). The smokestick's syntax is identical to the sunrod's--i.e. this thing [sunrod or smokestick] does something [makes light or makes smoke] when you do something [strike it or ignite it]--, and sunrods only require being struck (whatever that means, but let's boldly assume a standard action). So, although it's pretty solidly up to your DM what action is needed, it looks like whatever action is needed should be the same as sunrod, not a series of actions like take it out, kneel, place it on the floor, and stand over it for a full round clicking your flint and steel. That's a lot of effort for something that's 10x the price of a sunrod, that at that price can feed someone for a month, and that lasts 6 seconds.
Drawing an item (as a move action or using a feat or using a magic item to do so) expends resources, using the item expends resources, and the resource is limited by its availability, cost, and weight. That's enough for me, as a DM, to say, "Like a sunrod, smokesticks are self-igniting, and after you've drawn one you can ignite it as a standard action."
Note that a smokestick isn't a smoke grenade. There is no delay. It's ignited and it goes off in whatever crosshairs within your reach you lit it in. Done. That'll probably means, in your PC's case, a move action and drawing one on the run and then another move action to break line of sight, and if that doesn't work break line of sight again with the smokestick and then take a move action. You want to take that move action after the smokestick ignites, otherwise you get pincushioned half the time in the cloud.