French prison
The former prisoner was forced to share a small cell with a number of smokers Getty Images

A former prison inmate in France successfully sued the government after being made to share a cell with smokers. The state was fined €1,200 (£888) by a court in Caen. The prisoner had to share a cell of around 20 square metres with four to six inmates, several of whom were smokers.

Judges said the plaintiff "was justified in arguing that…as a non-smoker his incarceration did not take place in the required hygienic conditions," reports AFP. This was exacerbated as "the cells only have a small window," the court said.

The former prisoner, who was not named in the hearing, also complained of "overcrowding in the cells he occupied and bad hygiene conditions, lighting and poor ventilation."

Judges ruled that the man's detention was a "breach of human dignity and revealed an error of a nature that puts the responsibility of public authorities on the line." The former prisoner originally asked for €6,050 (£4,480) in damages.

Smoking is currently permitted in French prisons. Ahead of a ban on smoking in jails in the UK, the Prison Governors Association warned that prisons could become more unstable under the ban.