Key health groups are demanding the State Government bring in a raft of new anti-smoking measures including a total ban in all outdoor eating areas and fewer licences for tobacco retailers.

The Australian Medical Association, the Australian Council on Smoking and Health and the Heart Foundation WA have accused the Government of dropping the ball and allowing WA to lose its reputation as Australia's strongest State on tobacco control.

They said national figures showed WA, which once topped the league table with the lowest adult smoking rates of all States, had slipped to fifth place.

AMA WA president Richard Choong and ACOSH president Mike Daube wrote to Health Minister Kim Hames this week, criticising his response to a Health Department review of smoking regulations which was tabled in State Parliament a month ago without comment.

The review, which sought public comment last year on proposals to introduce further bans and restrictions on the sale and use of tobacco products, found strong support from health groups and local government while tobacco companies and hospitality groups opposed many of the measures.

More than three-quarters of the 69 submissions backed removing the smoking ban exemption at the Crown Casino's International Room for "high rollers", while 73 per cent supported a total ban on smoking in all outdoor eating areas.

Professor Daube said while smoking was declining, the State Government had become complacent.

"It is inexplicable that the minister sat on a report from the department for over a year and then did nothing," he said.

Heart Foundation chief executive Maurice Swanson said State Parliament made a mistake in granting the 50 per cent exemption to the smoke ban in beer gardens and these areas needed to be made smoke-free immediately.

"Exposure to second-hand smoke increases significantly your risk of heart attack," he said.

Dr Hames said no decision had been made on what action to take on the review.

The West Australian

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