Utah hospitals are well on their way in achieving a smoke-free environment--not only for patients, but also staff, employees and visitors.

A statewide survey conducted by the Utah Hospital Association reveals that 97 percent have no-smoking policies in effect.Thirty-four hospitals (85 percent) have no-smoking rules for patients and visitors; 39 of the 40 hospitals (97 percent) have no-smoking policies for employees; and 32 hospitals (80 percent) include medical staff.

Nineteen of the hospitals (49 percent) have "total hospital enforcement of the policy, while 20 hospitals (50 percent) have policies enforced in designated areas only. Several hospitals only allow smoking in designated areas during certain hours.

The survey showed that enforcement is largely done through administrators and supervisors adhering to policy manuals. A few hospitals use committees to help enforce the policy. All of the procedures are voluntary.

Association President Eugene C. Beck said all Utah hospitals have been encouraged to become smoke-free by year 2000. The association adopted a position paper in 1986 asking hospitals to reach this goal sooner if possible.

"It appears that we are on target with our goals," Beck said.

Dr. C. Everett Koop will be pleased with the news.

The U.S. Surgeon General issued a joint letter with the Department of Health and Human Services Administrator Dr. William L. Roper asking that the nation's hospitals deal with the smoking issue.