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The government’s key tax panel basically agreed Friday there is a need to raise the tobacco levy to promote health, but opinions regarding when to do so and to what extent within the ruling coalition remain divided and thus the envisioned hike will probably not take place in fiscal 2010.

“Raising a tax has a great impact on people’s lives. I believe we must ask voters whether it should be raised in the (July) House of Councilors election,” Senior Vice Finance Minister Naoki Minezaki told reporters after a meeting of the panel.

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