Let’s start with a quick history lesson. Have you ever hear the term “smoking lamp’s out”? This term is derived from the age of sail. While the classic image of the crusty old sailor with a pipe in his mouth seems synonymous with man-of-wars; there were strict regulations on when you could and could not smoke.
“When the smoking lamp is lit it is alright to smoke, when it is out smoking is prohibited. From the naval phrase. Fire is the most dangerous threat at sea so, particularly on wooden ships, it was necessary to strictly control the use of fire and smoking materials. A lamp was hung on the forecastle, where sailors were allowed to sit and relax, and the sailors knew they could smoke their pipes if the lamp was lit. If it was not lit, smoking was not allowed.”
All health issues aside, and for the novice to night time operations, here is the reason “smoking lamp’s out” is still heard in today’s military. I’ve been quite astounded how far the cherry of a cigarette shines at night; some military personnel have told me you can see them up to two miles away on a clear night. I’ve never tested it, but I don’t doubt it.
Consider now the Charlie (bad guy) lying in the tree line at night looking for a target; then he spots a soft red glow. The shooter waits for the flare of the glow, because this indicates the victim is taking a drag. The selector switch moves from safe to fire, the shooter takes a calm breath partially exhaling and fires at the flaring cherry knowing a head is right behind it. Bang!
If you use tobacco and find yourself in a dangerous situation, avoid a smoke at night; night vision can see it, infrared can see it, and even the naked eye can see it. Cupping with your hands will help, but the glow still reveals your face to those moderately close by.