The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) released the results of this year’s Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey which shows that cigarette and alcohol use by eighth, 10th and 12th-graders are at their lowest point since 1975.

However teens are continuing to abuse alternative tobacco products like hookahs, small cigars, and smokeless tobacco, as well as marijuana and prescription drugs, according to the results announced today during a news conference at the National Press Club.

Of 12th-graders surveyed, 18.7 percent reported cigarette use in the last month, compared to a peak of 36.5 percent in 1997. Only 6.1 percent of eighth-graders reported current smoking, compared to 21 percent in 1996.

"That cigarette use has declined to historically low rates is welcome news, given our concerns that declines may have slowed or stalled in recent years," said NIDA director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. "That said, the teen smoking rate is declining much more slowly than in years past, and we are seeing teens consume other tobacco products at high levels. This highlights the urgency of maintaining strong prevention efforts against teen smoking and of targeting other tobacco products."

For alcohol, 63.5 percent of 12th-graders reported drinking in the past year, compared to 75 percent in 1997. Additionally, nearly 27 percent of eighth-graders reported drinking alcohol in 2011, compared to a peak of 46.8 percent in 1994.

Conversely, use of marijuana has increased in recent years and remains steady - 36.4 percent of 12th-graders reported past year use, and 6.6 percent reported daily use, up from 31.5 and 5 percent, respectively, five years ago.

Abuse of the opioid painkiller Vicodin is down since 2009, but OxyContin use has remained steady. The non-medical use of the ADHD medicines Adderall and Ritalin remained about the same as last year.

"To help educate teens about the dangers of prescription drug abuse, NIDA is launching an updated prescription drug section on our teen website," said Dr. Volkow. "Teens can go to our PEERx pages to find interactive videos and other tools that help them make healthy decisions and understand the risks of abusing prescription drugs. We are also encouraging teens to provide feedback on these resources through NIDA's teen blog, Sara Bellum, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or email."

MTF is an annual survey conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan under a grant from NIDA. Overall, 46,773 students from 400 public and private schools participated in this year's survey.