I have not had to use a smoker, yet. I use an old non-aresol, finger-push hair spray bottle that has been cleaned out real good and spray them with my regular sugar-water mixture. I have used a smoker in the past and I don't see any difference in the behaviour of my hives and I feel like the sugar-water disrupts the hive a lot less. As soon as I spray the syrup on them they settle down and start cleaning themselves. Just don't spray them too much because, as someone mentioned here about a month ago, if you spray them with SOAPY water, it kills them.
I tried to use a bottle sprayer like you can spray plants with but the mist was pretty course. The hair-spray bottle is a much finer mist that penetrates down between the frames better when you seperate the frames. I guess I spray them a bit more than I would smoke them because the mist doesn't penetrate like smoke does.
And, FOR ME, the joy of working my bees and not getting stung is worth suiting up every time. And I'm about to hit the hot Texas summer. I'll suit up and be warm to avoid getting stung. My choice.