Studies evaluating risk factors for the occurrence of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in high-risk regions might contribute to a better understanding of the oesophageal cancer aetiology and incidence variation worldwide. We aimed to quantify the association between alcohol, tobacco and dietary history, and the occurrence of ESCC in Mozambique. A case–control study was conducted at Maputo Central Hospital. Cases (n = 143) were patients with newly diagnosed oesophageal cancer recruited in the Gastroenterology Service. Controls (n = 212) were selected in the Orthopaedic Ward among subjects with pathologies related to trauma. Crude and adjusted odds ratios (ORs), and the corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) were computed using non-conditional logistic regression. The risk of ESCC was higher in older participants and lower in those with higher household income. Alcohol drinking (lifetime consumption ≥ 55.1 versus 0 kg ethanol: OR = 5.56; 95% CI: 2.43–12.73) and tobacco smoking (lifetime consumption ≥ 20 versus 0 pack/years: OR=7.26; 95% CI: 1.42–37.17) were associated with increased risk of ESCC. Tea (at least twice daily versus less than daily: OR = 5.09; 95% CI: 2.45–10.58) was also associated with the occurrence of ESCC. No significant differences were observed for fruit and vegetable and for smoked meat or fish consumption. Findings from this study show that in our sample, the occurrence of ESCC is strongly influenced by lifetime consumption of tobacco and alcohol, and with tea drinking. This highlights the importance of preventive measures based on the promotion of healthier lifestyles.