In July 2009, over 40 civil society groups, lawyers and public health advocates stormed the National Assembly in the capital, Abuja, to demand that the Nigerian legislature to sign the National Tobacco Control Bill into law. The bill had been brought before the Assembly five months earlier, but it took more than two years before lawmakers finally approved it. Since March 2011, the bill has been awaiting ratification by the federal government. The bill hasn't been enacted because of pressure from tobacco lobbying groups. One assemblyman, who only agreed to speak if his name was withheld, confirmed that the tobacco lobby has weakened the government’s resolve to introduce effective legislation.
Tola Oyebode, a doctor and a member of one of the protest groups said "I see people die every day from tobacco addiction"
Nigeria is one of the largest markets for tobacco products in Africa. About 13 million Nigerians are smokers, and about 17 billion cigarettes are produced in the country each year. Over the past decade, there has been a steady increase in the number of smokers, he said. About 7 million cigarettes are smoked each day.
Joseph Bulus, a doctor, said tobacco kills about half of its lifetime users. About 70 million people died worldwide as a result of smoking between 1950 and 2000, and it’s estimated that over the next 50 years, 450 million may die because of tobacco use. Most of those deaths will be in developing countries. Stringent anti-tobacco laws in the west have turned those companies' attention to sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria is considered the "jewel" in the tobacco business. Tobacco-related health problems are worse in Nigeria because the tobacco content of the cigarettes sold in the country is higher than in those sold in western nations.