Eighty-two per cent of a sample of 170 female adolescent smokers reported experiencing one or more of five specified subjective effects of smoking. Feeling calmer was the most frequently reported effect and daily smokers were more likely to report this than non-daily smokers (64% versus 38%, P less than 0.001). Self-reports of cigarette consumption and depth of inhalation and measures of smoke intake (salivary cotinine and expired-air carbon monoxide levels) were positively related to the report of feeling calmer when smoking and negatively related to feeling dizzy/light-headed and sick when smoking. The likelihood of experiencing at least one withdrawal effect when trying to quit was greater amongst those who reported feeling calmer when smoking (82% versus 40%, P less than 0.001). These results indicate that subjective effects of smoking are commonly reported by children and it is possible that pharmacological factors are implicated alongside psychosocial ones even at this early stage.