This means that nearly 570 children are lighting up and becoming smokers for the first time every day.
The new Cancer Research UK figures show this number has jumped by an extra 50,000 from the previous year, when 157,000 started smoking.
Analysis of the data showed that the 2010 figure was unusually low and this most recent figure is similar to the numbers seen in the late 2000s.
Around 27 per cent of all under-16s have tried smoking at least once – equivalent to one million children. Eight out of ten adult smokers start before they turn 19.
And the figures show that older children smoke more than younger ones.
A survey among 12-year-olds in 2010 found none were regular smokers, one per cent smoked occasionally and two per cent said they used to smoke.
But a year later in 2011 among the same age group of children, now aged 13, two per cent were found to smoke regularly, four per cent smoked occasionally and three per cent said t