As part of the national effort to achieve a smoke-free society by the Year 2000, the Veterans Administration will establish a smoke-free environment in acute care sections of all VA hospitals and outpatients clinics.

This includes the 370-bed VA Medical Center in Salt Lake City. The policy is expected to be implemented by mid-1989.In announcing the proposed policy, Dr. John A. Gronvall, the VA's chief medical director, said, "As the largest single health care provider in the nation, VA's Department of Medicine and Surgery should make every effort to create an environment that will promote the health and well-being of patients, visitors and employees."

Patients in long-term care wards or facilities, such as nursing homes, domiciliaries, spinal-cord injury units and psychiatric units, will be exempt. The policy, however, will apply to all Department of Medicine and Surgery employees, as well as other VA employees located at medical center sites.

Gronvall said plans also are under way for the development of a national education program and increased use of smoking cessation programs for both patients and employees.