Objective: To measure the prevalence and frequency of alcohol and tobacco use among secondary school teachers in Zimbabwe.
Design: Cross sectional survey.
Setting: 17 secondary schools in Harare, Mashonaland East and West and Matabeleland North Provinces (including Bulawayo).
Subject: 442 secondary school teachers, of whom half were males.
Main outcome measures: Prevalence of self-reported experience with alcohol and tobacco, frequency of alcohol use, alcohol type preferences and use of alcohol and tobacco by age and school type.
Results: Prevalence of alcohol was significantly higher among teachers at private schools as compared with the other school categories. Smoking varied between the school types for women but not for men. Except for private schools, both tobacco and alcohol prevalence among female teachers were significantly lower than for male teachers. Of the male teachers 44.6% and 64.1% of female teachers reported never drinking; 38.6% of male teachers and 8.2% of female teachers reported drinking every day or at least weekly. Alcohol type preferences varied in general across school categories and between male and female teachers.
Conclusion: The study reveals a mixed picture of smoking and alcohol drinking among secondary school teachers. Relatively high levels of beer drinking among men as well as the particularly high levels of use programmes among private school teachers may constitute negative influence on the habits of students. This aspect should not be ignored when designing school-based prevention of substance use programmes among school children in Zimbabwe.